By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Despite the inclement weather, it will be business as usual for the chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations and Senate Committee on Finance to hammer out the conflicting provisions of next year’s national budget.
Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, confirmed that he and Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara would meet Tuesday, December 3, to “go through” the details of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), particularly the working figures that the bicameral conference committee would reconcile.
“Definitely, we will meet today, rain or shine because we have a deadline,” he told the Manila Bulletin.
He said they are eyeing to transmit to President Duterte for signature the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget before Congress’ Christmas break on December 21.
“Hopefully before the Christmas break, the budget will be signed already. That’s our target,” Ungab said.
He disclosed that the House Appropriations Secretariat just finished studying on Monday the figures in Senate’s GAB as approved on final reading.
“I presented these findings to the House Bicameral Conference Committee Panel and will proceed to discuss the details with my Senate counterpart, Sen Angara. Both chairmen will still have to go through the details and we still have to agree on the contentious figures,” he said.
“Nevertheless, both panels agree on the need to pass and approve the national budget before the Christmas break. We will be working this week despite the typhoon,” Ungab said.
He assured that the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget would be ratified before Congress goes on Christmas break.
During a brief meeting on November 29 at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City, the bicameral conference committee tasked Ungab and Angara to meet one-on-one and harmoniously resolve the conflicting provisions of the 2020 national budget.
Angara earlier said the passage of the 2020 “will be smoother.”
It was Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, an independent minority congressman, who
moved for the one-on-one meeting. His motion was seconded by House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
Romualdez said authorizing Ungab and Angara to meet one-on-one to address
the conflicting provisions of the national budget for next year “would help expedite” the immediate approval of the spending bill.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier assured that the Lower Chamber is keeping its “no insertions, no pork, and no parking policy” during the bicameral conference committee.
Reports said the Senate batted for an increase in the budget of the Departments of Defense (DND) and Department of Health (DOH) to cover the higher pay for nurses, while it reduced the budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).