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Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday welcomed the timely passage of the proposed PHP4.506-trillion national budget for 2021 in the Senate.

Velasco said the House of Representatives has formed a 21-member contingent, led by House appropriations chairman Eric Yap, for the bicameral conference committee that will reconcile the disagreeing provisions in the Senate and House versions of the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2021.

“We now look forward to sitting with our Senate counterparts in conference possibly starting next week to come up with a common version of the budget,” he said.

He said the House contingent will ensure that there will be enough funds for the government’s Covid-19 response, especially the procurement of vaccines for an initial 20 million poor Filipinos and eventually for at least 60 million of the country’s population.

He said the record-high budget is the government’s “single most powerful tool” to fight Covid-19 and help the economy and the people recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic.

He also assured sufficient funding for the rehabilitation and recovery of communities devastated by recent typhoons, including “Rolly” and “Ulysses”.

“We should help our people rebuild their lives,” he added.

Congress would also appropriate funds to sustain President Rodrigo Duterte’s other priority programs like Build, Build, Build and his anti-poverty projects, he noted.

“Our goal is to get the 2021 General Appropriations Bill on the President’s desk for his signature before the year ends, so we can prevent a reenacted budget that will not bode well for the economy and the entire nation,” he said.

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