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Palace hopes Congress will submit budget

Malacañang yesterday expressed hope that they would receive the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 from Congress within the week.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte would need to review the proposed budget to see if there are questionable allocations that need to be vetoed.

“Realistically, they have to do it this week dahil pag-aaralan pa rin po ng Presidente iyan kung mayroong mga individual line vetoes na gagawin (because the President will still have to study whether individual line vetoes are necessary),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque earlier said the timely passage of the budget would avert a reenacted budget scenario as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

He said a reenacted budget would spell “disaster” for the government’s Covid-19 response.

On Dec. 1, the Senate and House of Representatives began bicameral deliberations on the proposed budget.

The Senate approved its version on Nov. 26 while the House passed theirs on Oct. 16.

Among allocations under the proposed budget is the funding for a vaccine against Covid-19 and calamity response.

The Senate version of the general appropriations bill earmarked a total of P83 billion for the purchase, storage, and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in 2021.

It also raised the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund to P21 billion, and assistance to disaster-hit local government units to P15 billion.

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 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

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