THE Senate finance committee expects the P4.1-trillion national budget for next year to be approved on time, amid allegations of various “pork” insertions by congressmen.
Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, who heads the committee, said senators would examine the budget bill fast. “But we don’t sacrifice tough scrutiny for speed,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Mr. Angara said nine sub-committees had been tasked to deliberate on the budget of different government agencies from Monday to Friday and even after Congress goes on month-long break beginning Oct. 4.
This comes after Senator Panfilo M. Lacson alleged that 22 deputy House speakers would be receiving an additional P1.5 billion each in pork funds, while others were to receive P700 million each.
Capiz Rep. Fredenil H. Castro denied the allegation and demanded an apology from the senator.
The enactment of the 2019 national budget was delayed for four months after questions about illegal realignments allegedly made by lawmakers. President Rodrigo R. Duterte only signed the 2019 spending plan on April 15, vetoing about P95 billion of appropriations.
The House of Representatives on Sept. 20 approved on third and final reading the budget bill for next year.
The House then formed a small committee to introduce amendments to the approved budget bill, which Senator Angara said the finance committee had yet to review. — Charmaine A. Tadalan