Thu. Dec 3rd, 2020

The Palace is expecting the transmittal of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) by the House to the Senate as scheduled or on October 28, either in soft or hard copy.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. also said the timely transmittal of the GAB, which allocates a budget of P4.56 trillion for 2021, will prevent the government from operating with a reenacted budget for next year. This year’s budget allocation is P4.1 trillion.

“Well, pinasasalamatan nga po namin iyong Kamara de Representantes sa kanilang pagpasa ng budget on third and final reading pero kinakailangan din po ma-transmit po nila iyong soft copy ng budget o dili naman kaya iyong hard copy on or before 28 (We express our gratitude to the House of Representatives for passing the budget on third and final reading but there is a need to transmit its soft copy or the hard copy on or before October 28),” said Roque.

He added senators are worried that a delay in the transmittal would result in the delay of its approval, which could possibly result in a reenacted budget next year. Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd said earlier he heard the Senate will get the GAB on November 5.

Once the GAB is with the Senate, it would likely face intense scrutiny from senators as Senator Panfilo Lacson raised the issue of amendments made to the GAB right after it was approved on third reading by the House.

Lacson said such a move was unconstitutional.

The Palace also said it would side with senators on the issue that no changes should be made to the GAB once it is approved. The revisions to the GAB is reportedly worth around P20 billion and, according to one lawmaker, involved government agencies and not pork barrel.

 “As a finding of fact, kinakailangan ma-establish na iyong errata really refers to a typographical error. Pero kung ito po ay additional items, then I would share the view of the senators kasi kapag third and final reading eh wala na po dapat pagbabago iyan (There is a need to establish if the changes are typographical errors. However, if these are additional items, I would share the view of senators because after third and final reading, there should be no changes to be made),” Roque, a former lawmaker, said.

It was Rep. Eric Yap, House appropriations panel chair who said on Saturday that any amendments introduced to the approved 2021 budget were initiated by concerned government agencies. He was part of a small committee whose members were handpicked by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to handle the amendments.

A reenacted budget for 2021 would hamper the government’s response to revive the economy that had took a beating from the coronavirus disease pandemic. In the second quarter of this year, the country’s gross domestic product plunged by 16.5 percent due to the pandemic. (sovereignph.com)

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