MANILA – The Duterte administration’s proposed 2021 budget will prioritize the country’s response to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacañang said on Sunday.
In an interview over DZBB, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Executive Department will be submitting a “different” type of budget proposal this coming July, the same month Duterte is expected to deliver his fifth state of the nation address (SONA).
“Yung darating na budget for 2021 na isusumite natin sa mga buwang Hulyo, ibang iba po ang hitsura niyan no. Siyempre po ang buong budget nakatutok din sa Covid-19 habang wala ngang tayong bakuna (The upcoming budget for 2021 that will be submitted in the month of July, it will look very different. The whole budget will focus on Covid-19 while we don’t have a vaccine yet),” he said.
Roque said there will be some government projects that will have to be set aside to give more importance to the needs of Filipinos.
He, however, assured that the government has enough funds to sustain the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) and other cash assistance programs, thanks to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 or Republic Act 11469.
“Sa susunod na buwan ay wala po tayong problema, covered po tayo ng Bayanihan Act. Pero beyond that po ay titingnan natin kung ano pang mga pangangailangan (Next month, we have no problem. We’re covered by the Bayanihan Act. But beyond that, we have to see what else we need),” he said.
The Bayanihan Act gives Duterte special powers in handling the current health crisis, including realigning funds in the 2020 national budget.
Duterte’s powers are valid until June 26, unless extended by Congress.
“Meron din pong otoridad na binigay ang Kongreso sa ating Presidente mag realign ng budget, so meron po talagang mga budget na proyekto na di na mapapatupad para po mapunta sa Covid-19 (The Congress has also given the President authority to realign the budget so there are really projects that will be discontinued so that the funds can be used for Covid-19),” he said.
Although there is enough budget for the next few months, Roque said the Executive Department should also have medium-term solutions for the health crisis.
“Pero ang solusyon po na medium-term siyempre ay yung budget sa (But the medium-term solution of course is the 2021 budget) 2021 will be the first Covid-19 budget ng ating gobyerno (of our government),” he said.
“Ang hihingin siguro ng gobyerno ay yung para sa budget matapos itong ECQ at GCQ ano dahil ang talagang budget naman na ibinigay sa atin ay mahigit kumulang dalawang buwan (What the government will be asking for is budget after the enhanced community quarantine and general community quarantine because the budget they have given will last for at least two months),” he said.
Roque, meanwhile, bared that Budget Secretary Wendal Avisado has already prepared a draft of the supplemental budget to augment the government’s resources for Covid-19 response.
“Meron na pong preliminary figures at alam na more or less kung ano yung mga preliminary figures na kakailanganin sa immediate, future, sa medium-term at saka sa pantaunang budget sa 2021 (There are preliminary figures and we know more or less what are the preliminary figures that we need in the immediate future for the middle-term and the annual budget for 2021),” he said.
Last Friday (April 24), Duterte said he might ask Congress to approve a supplemental budget to augment the government’s depleting resources for Covid-19.
Congress, under the Bayanihan Act, has granted Duterte special powers to tap some PHP275 billion in unused government funds to stop the further transmission of Covid-19 in the country.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the national government has already spent PHP352.7 billion to address Covid-19.
The Senate and the House are Representatives will resume session on May 4. (PNA)