SENATE PRESIDENT Vicente C. Sotto III said the expected Tuesday signing of the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 will be postponed, a delay that could affect financial markets looking for a spending plan that would support economic recovery.
“I just received word now of the postponement. No reason given,” Mr. Sotto told reporters in a Viber group on Monday.
Budget Officer-in-Charge Tina Rose Marie L. Canda said at a public briefing on Monday that President Rodrigo R. Duterte was expected to sign the proposed budget by Tuesday afternoon, with some provisions up for veto.
Items that will be vetoed are “very few,” she said. “I don’t think I’m in a position to discuss it at this point.”
Congress on Dec. 15 ratified the Bicameral Conference Committee report on the national budget.
Mr. Duterte must sign the General Appropriations Bill before Dec. 31 to ensure that the government will not operate on a reenacted budget.
Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the timely enactment of the national budget would have a positive impact on the economy and financial markets.
“The national budget, alongside the extension of the validity of unused funds into the following year, would support increased government spending, especially on infrastructure as a major pillar of the country’s economic recovery,” he said in a Viber message.
Delays to signing of the national budget could slow down economic recovery due to lower spending on infrastructure, as well as weigh on sentiment in local financial markets, Mr. Ricafort added.
Meanwhile, Ms. Canda said another P1 billion is set for release from the president’s contingent fund on Monday to assist local government units (LGUs) affected by typhoon Odette. The government released P1 billion from the same fund on Friday.
The money will assist affected LGUs in Western, Central and Eastern Visayas, Mimaropa (consisting of the provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), Northern Mindanao and the Caraga Administrative Region.
Mr. Duterte last week declared a state of calamity in these six regions affected by the typhoon to speed up aid delivery and relief efforts, setting a P10-billion spending plan for typhoon recovery efforts.
Another P4 billion in aid will be released to local governments to assist their constituents before the end of the year, Ms. Canda said. This fund will come from excess revenues charged against unprogrammed appropriations, she said in a Viber message.
In total, government funds for release before yearend will reach P6 billion, while another P4 billion will be released next year.
If Mr. Duterte signs the national budget soon, the funding for Odette recovery efforts next year could be released as soon as Jan. 3. — Jenina P. Ibañez with inputs from Alyssa Nicole O. Tan