Malacañang has conveyed its thanks to the House of Representatives for its timely approval of the P4.506-trillion 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) last Friday.
“We thank the House of Representatives for passing on third and final reading the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on time,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement the following day.
President Duterte had earlier stressed the importance of the timely passage of the budget, as the government needs resources to fund its interventions to ease the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Roque also expressed hope the House would transmit the approved budget’s printed copy to the Senate as soon as possible to give the latter “ample time” to complete work on it.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, for his part, said the timely approval of the 2021 GAB “will go a long way in helping support and realize the Duterte administration’s outlined undertakings, responses, and programs for our collective recovery from the adverse impacts of Covid-19.”
The 2021 GAB was approved by 267 House lawmakers after the plenary passed the measure on second and third reading last Friday, Only six lawmakers opposed it, and no one abstained from voting during their special session.
In remarks after GAB approval, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco congratulated all House members for their active involvement in the timely passage on third and final reading of the measure, and assured the public that “we will not have a reenacted budget by next January.”
Velasco also assured they will “transmit without delay” the approved budget bill to the Senate to give Senators sufficient time to examine the spending measure. He described the 2021 national budget as “an extraordinary budget for extraordinary times”.
“There is so much at stake here: our health, the economy, jobs and livelihood, food security, the education of our children, and much more. And we thank President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for taking a principled, decisive leadership in calling this special session so the budget would get the complete attention it deserves,” he said.
Velasco said next year’s budget would not only provide the fiscal stimulus for economic recovery, but also help fund the government’s efforts to contain and mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
The proposed national budget is 9.9% higher than the P4.1-trillion appropriations for 2020 and equivalent to 21.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
The bulk of next year’s proposed budget will go to social services which will get P1.664 trillion or 36.9% of its total. The outlay includes funding support for programs related to health, social protection, and education.
The economic services sector will receive the second highest allocation with P1.347 trillion or 29.9% of the proposed budget. The general public services sector will get P724.2 billion; debt burden gets P560.2 billion, and defense gets P210.6 billion.
The top 10 agencies with the highest budget allocations include the Departments of Education (DepEd), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Defense (DND), Health (DOH), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Transportation (DOTr), Agriculture (DA), Justice (DOJ) and Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Earlier, budget deliberations were stalled due to the speakership tussle between then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and his successor, Velasco who eventually prevailed.