Malacañang said on Thursday it expects the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 to be submitted to the Office of the President earlier than the second week of December.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Congress should submit the spending measure within the timeframe to give President Rodrigo Duterte “ample time” to review its version of the budget and wield his line-item veto power if necessary to get rid of questionable allocations.
“Alam ninyo po kasi, hindi rin ganoon kabilis ang pag-review ng budget kasi sa budget lang po may kapangyarihan ang Presidente na gumawa ng tinatawag na “line veto”… kinakailangan pala mas maaga because the process of reviewing it entails a line by line analysis (You know, it’s not that easy to review the budget because this is the only time the President can use his power of ‘line-veto’… that’s why [the budget submission] should be made earlier because the process of reviewing it entails a line by line analysis),” Roque said.
Roque noted that the timely passage of the budget would avert a reenacted budget scenario as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
He said November would be ideal but noted: “I think December would be fine.”
“The sooner the better in December so that we would have ample time to go through it,” he added.
Last week, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 7727 or the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) with 267 affirmative votes, six negative votes, and no abstention.
The House gave its green light to the 2021 GAB after holding a special session from Oct. 13 to 16, as called upon by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Earlier, budget deliberations were stalled due to the speakership tussle between then-Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his successor, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Under the term-sharing deal brokered by President Duterte, Cayetano would serve as the House Speaker for the first 15 months, or until October 2020 while Velasco would take over and assume the position for the remaining 21 months or until the 18th Congress ends in 2022.
Velasco said they will “transmit without delay” the House-approved budget bill to the Senate to give their counterparts sufficient time to examine the spending measure.
“Originally, it was planned to be transmitted on Nov. 5. However, I had a quick talk with Senate President (Vicente) Sotto, he told me that if we transmitted on Nov. 5, that would be quite hard for them to finish on time. So, we agreed on Oct. 28, best effort of the House,” he said. (pna.gov.ph)