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Doble-kayod! House to hold Friday sessions for swift approval of 2020 budget

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The House of Representatives will conduct Friday hearings and sessions starting next week to ensure the swift passage of the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget by October.

Appropriations panel chair and Davao City 2nd district Rep. Isirdo Ungab said the hearings will start immediately after the formal submission of the 2020 National Expenditure program by the Duterte Cabinet to the House leadership this Tuesday, August 20.

Ungab said his panel will scrutinize the proposed General Appropriations Act to prevent any delays similar to the budget stalemate between the House and the Senate early this year.

“We will do our best to approve the budget on time and exercise our constitutional duty to scrutinize the budget to make sure that every peso that we appropriate will contribute to the overall growth and development of the country,” said Ungab.

He said his panel hopes to finish the budget hearings by second week of September and start plenary deliberations as soon as the panel approves its committee report.

The target date for passage of the General Appropriations Bill is on October 4 before the congressional recess, according to Ungab.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier said next year’s GAA will be a cash-based appropriation program that will prioritize the acceleration of infrastructure, anti-poverty, and pro-employment spending.

Under the program, the Build, Build, Build Program will continue to be the flagship program of the Duterte administration’s infrastructure development reaching around P1.8 trillion, or 6.9 percent of the country’s GDP by 2022.

Meanwhile, new critical programs identified by the DBM under the 2020 NEP are the: Implementation of the Universal Health Care Act; Bangsamoro Organic Law and smooth transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; liberalization of rice importation and ensuring food security; institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program; and operationalization of the newly-created Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development.

Ensuring the financial sustainability of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, as well as the continuing implementation of the Unconditional Cash Transfer Program, and improvement of the Risk Resiliency Program are also part of next year’s budget program.

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