Nat’l budget addresses impact of pandemic — Velasco

October 15, 2021 Jester P. Manalastas 195 views

SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco assured the public that the 2022 national budget is balanced and more responsive to the needs of the Filipino people, especially those worst hit by the pandemic.

In a statement following the approval of final version by a small committee chaired by ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap, Velasco said chamber’s version of the budget measure includes institutional amendments designed to help boost the government’s COVID-19 response, as well as upgrade the assets of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and fund state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The highlight of the final version are the funds for the procurement of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) boosters shots and the special risk allowance for the medical health workers which are both missing in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The proposed 2022 national budget is pegged at P5.024 trillion or 11 percent higher than this year’s budget.

“We are very proud of this budget and what it will do to help our country recover from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe the House delivered a budget that directly responds to the greatest needs of the Filipino people amid this unprecedented global health crisis,” Velasco said.

The Speaker assured that the printed copy of House-approved GAB will be transmitted to the Senate on or before October 27 to give senators ample time to likewise examine the government’s spending plan for next year.

The institutional amendments were vetted and approved by the five-member committee formed by the House to consolidate individual amendments on the proposed 2022 national budget as contained in House Bill 10153.

Aside from Yap, the panel is composed of Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Committee on Ways and Means Chair Joey Salceda, Deputy Minority Leader Stella Luz Quimbo, and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.

In line with its commitment to give higher spending priority to health care, Velasco said the House is providing the Department of Health additional funding of P29.5 billion for procurement of more COVID-19 vaccines, providing medical assistance to indigent patients, and ensuring special risk allowance of public and private health workers.

The House leader said an additional P5.5 billion will be given to the Department of National Defense for the purchase of five brand new C-130J planes for the PAF.

He said the House also set aside P504 million for the operational requirements of four SUCs in the BARMM that were unfunded in the National Expenditure Program. These are the Adiong Memorial Polytechnic State College in Lanao del Sur, Cotabato State University, Sulu State College, and Tawi-Tawi Regional Agricultural College.

Under the House version of the 2022 GAB, an additional P10 billion is allocated to the Department of Labor and Employment for its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or TUPAD Program.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development will receive a total of P11 billion for the implementation of its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation or AICS Program and Sustainable Livelihood Program.

The Department of Transportation—through the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board—will get an additional P6 billion for its Service Contracting Program, which extends assistance to pandemic-hit transport drivers and operators while at the same time providing free rides to the commuting public.

To fast-track the country’s digital transformation, P3 billion has been allocated for the National Broadband Program of the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

“Our intention in passing this budget is two-fold: addressing the pandemic while paving the way towards revitalizing our economy. We made sure that while there is sufficient funding for our health sector in battling the pandemic, there is also enough funding for other agencies to help create jobs, pump prime the economy, and move the country forward,” Velasco added.