Sotto optimistic on passage of 2018 budget, TRAIN before mid-December

MANILA -- Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Thursday expressed hope that the 2018 General Appropriations Act (national budget) and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN or tax reform package) would be passed before mid-December.

Sotto made this remark after the resumption of the Senate session was postponed from November 13 to November 16 due to the recently-concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

Hopefully before December 15 (we'll be finished), including the bicam(eral conference), Sotto told reporters in an interview.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier certified the tax reform bill as urgent.

Sotto, meanwhile, said that if the Senate sticks to the schedule, amendments to the 2018 budget and tax reform package are expected to take place next week.

Budget amendments will be taken up on November 20, 21, and possibly. If that happens, November 22, 23 will be devoted to the amendments of the tax reform package, Sotto told reporters.

Those are the two major pieces of legislation we need to pass before the end of the year, he added noting that bicameral conferences are also expected to take place this time.

The bicameral conference committee will reconcile the differences in the Senate and House versions of the proposed bills.

Sotto further said the week after that the Senate can devote its time to other pending bills.

Meanwhile, Sotto also expressed hope that interpellation on the 2018 national budget would be finished Thursday before midnight.

They (Senators) are willing to end up till 12 midnight if we can finish it today, Sotto said.

He said that Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon promised to spend only 30 minutes interpellating the budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Senators belonging to the minority bloc earlier threatened to block the 2018 Philippine National Police (PNP) budget if the killings linked to the drug war continue.

Source: Philippine News Agency