House OKs bill extending validity of 2020 budget

House OKs bill extending validity of 2020 budget

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to extend the availability of the 2020 appropriations until Dec. 31, 2021.

With 221 affirmative votes, six negative votes, and no abstention, the chamber passed House Bill 6656 which would amend Section 60 of the General Provisions of Republic Act 11465 or the 2020 General Appropriations Act to fund projects and programs implemented to address the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill has been certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, author of the bill, said the pandemic has led to the temporary suspension or delayed implementation of several programs, projects, and activities to be funded out of the 2020 budget.

Villafuerte said further backlogs or delays in the implementation of the projects may be encountered as the country transitions to the “new normal” regulations.

He said if the projects would not be completed or obligated, the appropriated funds would be reverted to the national treasury.

“This situation would be unfortunate given that the government would have to deal with a projected recession and unemployment in the wake of the pandemic,” he said.

He noted that the programs, projects, and activities funded by the 2020 budget are much needed to counteract the economic effects of the pandemic, including medical assistance programs, aid, and relief activities, as well as public works that create jobs such as the maintenance, construction or repair, and rehabilitation of schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and other essential facilities that serve the public. (PNA)

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