HOUSE Appropriations Committee Chair Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. doubled down on earlier statements that the P3.757-trillion budget bill for 2019 will be ready by Feb. 6 and will be up for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature by “next week.”
“All talk of a reenacted budget is baseless. The 2019 national budget will be ready for the President’s signature next week,” Mr. Andaya, who represents the 1st district of Camarines Sur, said in a statement Tuesday.
“The House of Representatives is sticking to the Wednesday target of approving the Bicameral Conference Report on the GAA (General Appropriations Act) for 2019. At this point, we are still on target,” he added.
His timeline follows Senate Finance Committee Chair Loren B. Legarda’s remarks on Tuesday evening that the bill will be finalized on Wednesday, but will be ratified on Feb. 8 instead.
The government is currently operating under a reenacted budget, after Congress failed to pass the General Appropriations Bill by the end of 2018.
Congress is scheduled to adjourn on Feb. 6 until May 19 for the election campaign period. It will resume for three weeks on May 20 after which the 17th Congress will close on June 7.
In the same statement, Mr. Andaya disclosed he had gathered proof the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had P370 billion in savings in 2017, which he alleged was the “DBM’s pork.”
“Documents in our possession show that for 2017, a total of P370 billion was generated in savings. This amount was at the full disposal of Secretary (Benjamin E.) Diokno,” he said.
“We also know that the amount for 2018 savings is higher. More than enough to sway the outcome of the 2019 elections, if he wants to.”
Mr. Andaya on Sunday said the House contingent to the Bicameral Conference Committee demanded that the DBM report the unused balances for the national budgets of 2017 and 2018.
At one point he threatened that the committee report on the budget will not be submitted without the DBM report, but later retracted his statement. — Charmaine A. Tadalan