The looming showdown in the House of Representives on who should be the next Speaker is getting Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd worried, as he sees the timely passing of the proposed 2021 budget as critical in getting the Philippine economy on the road recovery after getting battered by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“I believe the entire Congress is aware that the enactment of the budget in a timely manner is essential to the recovery of the economy from the ravages of the contagion. We are confident that they will do their duty,” he said in a message to the media on Friday.
The battle between House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque for the House leadership can potentially delay Congress’ approval of the proposed P4.56-trillion budget. Based on a term-sharing agreement for House Speaker, Velasco is supposed to take over leadership of the chamber on October 14.
Velasco and his allies are getting ready for a showdown with Cayetano’s camp, even if the latter enjoys more support from the ranks of the House as evidenced by 184 lawmakers rejecting Cayetano’s move to resign on Wednesday. President Duterte is also keeping his hands off the leadership issue at the House, and is more interested in seeing the P4.56-trillion budget approved by Congress.
If Congress fails to approve the 2021 budget, the government will be forced to operate with last year’s P4.1-billion budget outlay, which not allow the bureaucracy to spend on vital programs and projects outlined in the 2021 spending agenda.
“That will mean the bounce back of the Philippines’ economy and the return to normal of Filipinos’ income levels will be delayed,” Dominguez said.
Despite the impasse at the House over its leadership, Dominguez said he still believes Congress “will work hard to avoid that situation.”
The theme of the proposed 2021 budget is “Reset, Rebound and Recover: Investing for resiliency and sustainability” has a goal of protecting the country’s population from the Covid-19 pandemic while making the economy recover from the battering it got from the pandemic.