HOUSE LEGISLATORS approved a bill on second reading Monday that would extend the validity of this year’s budget.

House Bill 10373 will extend all appropriations under the 2021 General Appropriations Act until Dec. 31, 2022.

Completion, inspection, and payment of infrastructure projects and maintenance and operating expenses should also beat that deadline.

No individual amendments were made to the bill.

ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric G. Yap, the author of the bill, said programs and projects funded by this year’s budget remain necessary to protect the most vulnerable.

“The pandemic curbed opportunities for socioeconomic growth and development. It also disrupted the operations of government, which then caused delay in the release and issuance of budget allocations,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.

The House approved the proposed P5.024-trillion budget for next year on third and final reading on Sept. 30.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier approved legislation that extended the validity of the 2019 and 2020 national budgets.

The economy grew 7.1% year on year in the third quarter, lower than the revised 12% growth rate posted in the second quarter, after fresh lockdowns were imposed in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces to contain the Delta variant of the coronavirus. — Russell Louis C. Ku