MANILA, Philippines —The ball is now in the Senate’s court to approve the Php5.024 trillion 2022 national budget.
This is after the Lower House of Congress submitted to the Upper Chamber the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on October 25, two days earlier than the target day of submission.
And with the election fever already rising, several solons called on the Senate for the immediate approval of the bill.
Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda who also co-chairs the House Committee on Appropriations is hoping that Senators will set aside election campaigning to ensure that the national budget will be passed on time.
He said that although it’s a possibility, having a re-enacted budget will affect the country’s recovering economy.
House Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) Partylist Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy also appealed to the Senate for the immediate approval of the budget to help the country recover from the pandemic.
Under the GAB, more than Php65 billion were realigned in various government programs which include the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, and the allocation of special risk allowance for healthcare workers.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, said the upper house will start plenary debates on the budget when the session resumes on November 8.
He hopes that the national budget will be passed by the first week of December.
“Hopefully passage by the first week of December,” Sotto said,
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri gave the assurance of giving priority to the 2022 budget and approve the same on time.
“Of course, I will prioritize the Budget and try to pass it on time,” he said.
He also made certain that there will be no re-enacted budget this year.
There is no set date for the bicameral conference committee yet once the senate passes their version of the bill.
To date, Senate committee levels have concluded their hearings on the budget of respective government agencies. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)