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Bill extending shelf life of 2019 budget hurdles final reading in Lower House

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The House of Representatives has approved on final reading a measure that seeks to extend the shelf life of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The House plenary during Monday’s proceedings unanimously approved House Bill No. 5437— a proposed legislation that aims to extend the validity of the P3.757-trillion 2019 budget until the end of 2020—voting 192-0.

HB 5437 replaces House Joint Resolution No. 19 which was approved on third reading by the House Plenary last November 4.

According to Committee on Appropriations chair and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, the reason why HB 5437 has superseded HJR 19 is due to a recent Supreme Court ruling “that a mere resolution cannot amend or repeal a prior law which is an act of Congress.”

“A Republic Act should also be amended or repealed by a Republic Act,” said Ungab.

HB 5437 seeks to extend that of the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay (CO) of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) under RA 11260, by extending its shelf life until December 31, 2020.

House Majority Floor Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez earlier cited the delays in the passage of 2019 GAA and the election ban on the implementation of infrastructure projects and social services as the primary reasons for extending the life shelf of this year’s appropriation program.

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