THE P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 missed its targeted enactment date by a few days but is expected to sustain the government’s flagship infrastructure projects, the chairman of the Senate finance committee said Monday.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte was due to sign the 2020 spending plan Monday afternoon.

“We were off by a few days but this should have no impact on the operation of the government,” Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara said in a statement. Malacañang has said that the delay is to allow more scrutiny of the spending plan.

This is the second year the government has failed to sign the budget on time.

Mr. Duterte signed the 2019 spending plan on April 15 and vetoed some P95.3 billion in provisions which he found unconstitutional, which reduced it to P3.662 trillion.

“Our experience with the 2019 General Appropriations Act was regrettable. The delays faced in the approval of the measure proved to be very costly for the people, who were expecting the timely delivery of key services, and on the economy, which grew at a slower pace,” Mr. Angara said.

To prevent a repeat of the budget delay, the House approved its version on Sept. 20; the Senate approved its spending bill on Nov. 27. The reconciled version of the budget was ratified on Dec. 11.

The final version of the 2020 General Appropriations Act allocated P580.8 billion to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which is a P51.139 billion net increase from a year earlier.

“The idea is to complete as many projects as possible by the time President Duterte ends his term in 2022. For the more complex projects, the plan is to get the ball rolling so that the next administration will just continue these and complete them during its term,” he said.

The biggest portion of the budget went to the education sector with P654.6 billion for the Department of Education, State Universities and Colleges, the Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The DPWH budget was second-largest while the Department of Interior and Local Government was given P239.8 billion; the Department of National Defense P191.7 billion; and the Department of Social Welfare and Development P163.8 billion.

Other agencies with the highest appropriations are: the Department of Health, P101 billion; Department of Transportation, P99.3 billion; the Department of Agriculture, P62.2 billion; the Judiciary branch, P40.1 billion and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, P25.5 billion. — Charmaine A. Tadalan