The House of Representatives will transmit on Tuesday its approved version of the P4.5-trillion 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to the Senate one day ahead of the promised date, according to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
In a statement, Velasco said the record-high budget for next year was designed to further strengthen government response and stimulate economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Not only did we pass the proposed 2021 national budget in a timely, constitutional and legal manner, we also made sure next year’s spending plan will be more reflective and responsive to the needs of the people amid the worst public health crisis in a generation,” Velasco said.
He noted that the allocation for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines was increased by more than threefold to cover more Filipinos.
He said additional allocation was also provided for the facilities enhancement program of the Department of Health to strengthen the country’s healthcare system.
The House-approved version of the budget also has additional funding for the Department of Labor and Employment to aid workers displaced by the pandemic and for the Department of Social Welfare and Development for another round of financial assistance to affected families, Velasco said.
He expressed gratitude to the House members and staff for the timely passage of the spending measure and for making the chamber “truly the House representing the people.”
“The House could not have done it without its hardworking and dedicated members, including the Secretariat, who worked till the wee hours of the morning on a number of occasions to ensure that we pass a budget that is fair, equitable, timely and responsive to the needs of the country as we fight this very serious public health and economic crisis,” he said.
On October 16, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 7727 or the 2021 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 Velasco.
Under the term-sharing deal brokered by 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. PNA