Bicam approves proposed 2021 national budget

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2020   •   247

MANILA, Philippines – The bicameral conference committee on Wednesday approved the final version of the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, which is seen to drive the country’s pandemic and calamity response and recovery efforts.

The spending bill includes a P72.5 billion allocation for the purchase of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.

Of this allotment, P2.5 billion is allocated for the vaccines under the programmed funds of the Department of Health (DOH) while the P70 billion is placed under the unprogrammed appropriations, dependent on the availability of actual government funds.

Senator Sonny Angara, chairperson of Senate committee on finance and head of the upper chamber’s contingent in the bicameral conference, said that although much of the vaccines for budget was unprogrammed, the Department of Finance gave assurance it will be funded depending on the availability of government revenues.

“Ang akala kasi ng iba, ‘pag unprogrammed, hindi siya mapo-pondohan. It’s not true. But the probability of it being funded is large. We’re assured by the DOF na mapopondohan talaga ‘yun,” he said.

Aside from the allotment of P72.5 billion in the spending bill, Angara said the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) also provides P10 billion for COVID-19 vaccines.

The Bayanihan 2 is set to lapse on December 19 so lawmakers are moving to extend its validity until March or June 2021.

Both chambers of Congress are also planning to extend the validity of the 2020 General Appropriations Act until June or December 2021 for the implementation of programs and projects funded under the measure that was delayed due to the pandemic.

The budget bill also set aside funds for infrastructure projects for projects ravaged by recent typhoons.

The approved version of the budget also retained the P19-billion funding of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Lawmakers are eyeing to submit the 2021 budget bill to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing before December 25.

The bicam version of the budget bill has to be ratified first by both the Senate and the House before it can be submitted to the Office of President. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Duterte to veto items in the proposed 2021 national budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to veto several items in the proposed 2021 national budget, the Palace confirmed on Friday (December 25).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the ceremonial signing for the P4.5 trillion national budget is scheduled for Monday (December 28). The Palace official, however, did not disclose which items in the national budget will be vetoed by the President.

“Sigurado po na magkakaroon po ng veto message. Pero I am not at liberty to discuss po kung ano itong mga items na ito (I am sure there will be a veto message, but I am not at liberty to discuss what theses items are),” he said.

The education sector will receive the bulk of the budget with P708.2 billion, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with P694.8 billion. Meanwhile the country’s health sector will receive P287.5 billion. AAC

Senators question funding plan for COVID-19 vaccines

Marje Pelayo   •   December 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon have expressed concerns over the funding for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program amounting to P72.5 billion.

The said amount consists of P2.5 billion under the Department of Health (DOH) and P70 billion under the unprogrammed funds which will be sourced from non-tax revenues and foreign and local loans.

Recto fears that the government might not have a solid plan with regard to the appropriations needed for the vaccines and the logistical requirements as to how and where the funds will be sourced.

“So there is no plan. Whatever is in 2021 budget, kumbaga, hula-hula lang?” the skeptical Recto said.

“All of us are unclear how we will fund the P70 billion unprogrammed funds because, I’m sorry to say, what you enumerated as excess collection, given the pandemic – there is no excess in collection.”

Sen. Drilon, on the other hand, likened the P72.5-billion fund allocated for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines to an unfunded check.

“It is like we issue a check without adequate funding. Sana po hindi mag-bounce,” Drilon said.

Drilon suggested realigning the P33 billion peso supposedly parked funds in the Philippine International Trading Corporation.

Angara, however, said that the Department of Finance has already assured him that they will secure funds for the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to Angara, it will depend on the Executive department on what to do with the said funds. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Senate, House ratify bicam report on P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021

Maris Federez   •   December 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate and the House of Representatives. on Wednesday night, ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021.

The proposed budget, approved earlier in the day by the bicam, is expected to help the government’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response and the country’s economic recovery.

Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, who chairs the Senate committee on finance, said the bicam report also focused on the government’s efforts to help the provinces and communities that are affected by the pandemic and calamities.

According to data provided by the office of Senate finance committee, the education sector which covers the DepEd, SUCs, CHED, and Tesda will receive P708.181 billion.

This was followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with P694.822, and the health sector, led by the Department of Health (DOH) with P287.471-billion.

Other departments and their respective allocations are:

  • Interior and Local Government – ₱ 247.5 billion
  • National Defense – ₱205.5 billion
  • Social Welfare and Development – ₱176.7 billion
  • Transportation – ₱87.4 billion
  • Agriculture – ₱68.6 billion
  • Judiciary -₱44.1 billion
  • Labor and Employment – ₱36.6 billion

The budget measure is now up for signing into law by the President. /mbmf

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