To make sure the 2021 budget will be responsive to the effects of the pandemic, Sen. Panfilo Lacson bared Wednesday details of his proposed amendments to the spending bill.
Lacson said the proposed amendments include augmenting the budgets to ensure health, development and economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, Lacson said he is open to passing a special budget or special law like the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act to allow the President to realign funds to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.
“I want the budget to be responsive to the sign of the times. I want it to be responsive to the budget philosophy of Reset, Rebound, Recover. These are what we need for 2021. Not the multi-purpose buildings, not the double appropriations, not the right-of-way payments that cannot be accomplished anyway,” he said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.
“First things first. We should first address the pandemic and its effects: Health issues, development, recovery of the economy. Those are what we need to address in the 2021 budget,” he added.
Among Lacson’s proposed amendments to the budget bill are:
* Deleting P63 billion from the budgets of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ National Greening Program, and National Irrigation Administration, including:
– at least P60 billion from the DPWH for multi-purpose buildings except those to be used as evacuation and quarantine facilities, as well as double appropriations, right-of-way payments and also overlapping projects
– some P500 million from the NIA due to some implementation issues
Lacson proposed that the amount be realigned to other agencies and programs including:
* At least P20 billion for local government units in areas hit hard by recent typhoons, via the Assistance to Local Government Units-Local Government Support Fund (ALGU-LGSF).
* At least P12 billion for the Department of Information and Communications Technology, to at least start its P18-billion national broadband program and free wifi program.
* Additional budget for the flexible learning options of the Department of Education.
* Augmentation of at least P8 billion more for the Department of Health to implement the Universal Health Care program via the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), which needs at least P13 billion.
Meanwhile, Lacson said they are open to passing a special budget or even a special law to ensure the government can procure vaccines for COVID-19.
“If we need to even pass a special budget for that or a special law like Bayanihan where the President can realign funds from some items for the purchase of the vaccines, we will do that,” he said.