Wed. Sep 29th, 2021

MANILA – A leader of the House of Representatives is looking at a 5 to 6 percent increase in the proposed 2021 national budget, lower than the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s (DBCC) proposal of 10 to 11 percent.

During a virtual hearing of the House’s Defeat Covid-19 Committee on Tuesday, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said there might be a need to trim down the DBCC proposal because of the expected decrease in revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Salceda cited the Department of Finance’s projections of lower revenue collections this year due to the temporary closure of businesses in compliance with the 45-day enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Deputy Speaker for Finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte, however, said that the House could still adopt the PHP4.6-trillion DBCC proposal and the expected bigger shortfall could be filled with more borrowings.

“We are in a good fiscal position. We can borrow money. We are bankable. I think we can stick to that budget based on a reprioritization,” Villafuerte said.

Villafuerte stressed the need for a “reprioritization” of the proposed 2021 budget to focus on spending on responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“For Congress, definitely the investments would continue to be on infrastructure and health. We will have to prioritize health because of the situation,” he added.

Villafuerte and House appropriations committee chairman Rep. Eric Yap will meet with Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado on Wednesday to discuss the budget to include the government’s responses to a post-Covid-19 situation.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier said the House and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) were considering a smoother process for the preparation and approval of the annual national budget.

He said the plan is for the executive and legislative branches to work closely in putting together the yearly outlay.

“That is what we want to do and that is what Budget Secretary Avisado wants to do – even before the President submits the budget to Congress, there is a consultation with the proper committees of both the House and the Senate, instead of them preparing it and the House revising it and the Senate doing its own revision,” Cayetano said. (PNA)

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