Possible Senate adoption of House-approved 2020 budget hailed

MANILA House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez on Monday welcomed Senator Panfilo Lacson's comment that the Senate could adopt the 2020 national budget bill approved by the House of Representatives as a "step in the right direction".

Romualdez also commended Lacson for acknowledging the lower chamber's hard work in ensuring a pork-free national budget for next year.

"This bolsters our position that what we approved and transmitted to the Senate is a constitutionally-compliant General Appropriations Bill," Romualdez said.

"Let me reiterate, the money measure that we passed under the leadership of Speaker (Alan Peter) Cayetano will marshal a budget for a meaningful change and a reflection not only of the President's vision to make the life of Filipinos better, but also of the people's will," he added.

The House leader said the swift passage of the 2020 budget, which underwent tight scrutiny by administration and opposition lawmakers, is a product of the chamber's commitment to help propel the country's economic growth under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.

He noted that the pork barrel system is a "thing of the past" and assured that the line item budgeting system will be strictly observed to ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement of public funds.

In September, the House approved on third reading House Bill 4228, or the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which provides for the PHP4.1-trillion national budget for fiscal year 2020.

As stated in the 2020 GAB, the top 10 departments with the biggest allocations are: (1) Department of Education, PHP673 billion; (2) Department of Public Works and Highways, PHP534.3 billion; (3) Department of the Interior and Local Government, PHP238 billion; (4) Department of Social Welfare and Development, PHP195 billion; (5) Department of National Defense, PHP189 billion; (6) Department of Health, PHP166.5 billion; (7) Department of Transportation, PHP147 billion; (8) Department of Agriculture, PHP93.1 billion; (9) Judiciary, PHP38.7 billion; and (10) Department of Environment and Natural Resources, PHP26.4 billion.

Among the critical programs of the Duterte administration are measures to implement new laws and policies that provide socio-economic assistance to all Filipinos and enhance security of the nation, such as the full implementation of the Universal Health Care Act; institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program; smooth transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; implementation of the liberalization of rice importation; creation of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development; and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency