MANILA, Philippines – The Senate will officially begin plenary debates on the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 budget on Monday, November 11.
In a statement on Sunday, November 10, finance committee chairman, Senator Sonny Angara, said that the Senate is “on track to pass the budget,” adding that their timetable would see the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on the desk of President Duterte by the third week of December, at the latest.
Angara emphasized the importance of passing the 2020 budget in light of the 2019 budget deadlock.
“So critical is the General Appropriations Act in fact that because we failed to pass it on time during the previous budget cycle, the country paid a price,” the senator said.
He cited the slower gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate, delays in construction and repairs of schools, and late tuition fees for government scholars, as results of the late budget approval.
“The country was on the brink of missing its growth target for the year because of the delay in the approval of the 2019 national budget but as a result of the aggressive catch up spending implemented by some key agencies, the economy grew by 6.2% and is on pace to hit its full-year target of 6% to 7%,” Angara said in his Sunday statement.
The delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget resulted in government operating on a reenacted budget for four months, which actually “derailed” its poverty reduction efforts, according to Angara.
He said there were “opportunity losses in terms of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the construction, public administration and defense, wholesale and retail trade, land transport, and education sectors.”
Angara said that he believes other lawmakers have learned lessons from last year’s budget delay and would work to pass the 2020 budget within 2019.
“The experience has only underscored that, for us to maintain our country’s momentum and upward trajectory, we can afford no more delays, especially when public spending can account for up to 20% of the entire economy,” Angara said.
He also gave assurance that there would be enough budget for the administration’s health, education, and infrastructure programs. – Rappler.com
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