THE SENATE finance committee will hold parallel hearings on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 in a bid to send it to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for signing by Dec. 15, ahead of adjournment on Dec. 20.
“We will be observing the practice of holding parallel hearings so that when the House-approved GAB (general appropriations bill) will arrive here in October or first week of November, we are done with the exhaustive review of agency budgets at the committee level,” Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, who chairs the committee, said in a Wednesday release.
“The fighting target is to have it signed on or before Dec. 15. What is important is that the nation will greet the new year with a new national budget.”
The House of Representatives had earlier said it targets third reading approval of the 2020 GAB by Oct. 5 before Congress takes a month-long break.
Congress is again scheduled to adjourn on Dec. 20 and is set to resume sessions on Jan. 20, 2020.
Mr. Duterte and his Cabinet on Monday approved the 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP). The Department of Budget and Management has until Aug. 21 to transmit the NEP to both houses of Congress.
The 1987 Constitution provided the President shall submit its spending plan to Congress within thirty days from the opening of every regular session, which in this case, started last July 22.
Moreover, Mr. Angara maintained his commitment to ensure the timely approval of the budget, following the four-month delay in the enactment of the 2019 national budget.
“I have always taken the position that a reenacted budget must be avoided like a plague,” Mr. Angara said.
An impasse between the House of Representatives and the Department of Budget and Management, and later with the Senate had forced the government to operate under a reenacted budget for nearly four months as this year began, leaving new projects unfunded in that period.
President Duterte signed the 2019 spending plan on April 15, vetoing some P95.3-billion appropriations, which reduced it to a total of P3.662-trillion.
This delay prompted the Development Budget Coordination Committee in a meeting in March to slash gross domestic product (GDP) expansion targets for this year to 6-7% from 7-8% originally. — C. A. Tadalan