PHILSTAR

A BILL that would extend the validity of the 2021 budget would skip the bicameral conference committee after the House of Representatives adopted the Senate version on Tuesday.

The House adopted the Senate amendments to House Bill 10373, allowing for the measure to be transmitted to Malacañang for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature.

Under the measure, appropriations under the 2021 General Appropriations Act, budgetary support to government-owned and -controlled corporations and financial assistance to local government units (LGUs), will be available for release and obligation until Dec. 31, 2022.

However, funds for personnel services will be made available for release, obligation, and disbursement until the end of next year.

Appropriations for the statutory share of LGUs will be available until funds are fully utilized and disbursed.

The construction of infrastructure projects, the delivery of goods and services, inspection, and payment must also be settled before the end of December next year.

After the end of the validity period, all unreleased appropriations and unobligated allotments will expire and revert to the unappropriated surplus of the general fund.

Except for LGUs, all balances of fund transfers between government agencies, instrumentalities, and departments not utilized, expended, or disbursed will also revert to the general fund.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it had released 98.6% or P4.441 trillion of this year’s P4.5-trillion budget as of the end of November.

Congress leaders are still meeting in a bicameral conference committee to reconcile disagreeing provisions of the P5.024-trillion national budget for next year.

They hope to finalize the bicameral report and have it ratified by this week before they adjourn for the holidays.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved similar legislation that extended the validity of the 2019 and 2020 national budgets. — Russell Louis C. Ku