By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — The Senate approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to extend the validity of the 2021 General Appropriations Act until next year.
With 22 affirmative votes, no negative vote, and no abstention, the Senate passed during its hybrid plenary session Monday, December 13, 2021, House Bill 10373, as amended by the Senate, or An Act Extending the Availability of the 2021 Appropriations to December 31, 2022, sponsored by Sen. Sonny Angara.
Angara, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, hailed the approval of the measure, saying it is crucial in the government’s recovery efforts, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to persist throughout next year in light of the looming threat of the Omicron variant.
“The approval of the measure will allow the government to provide more social services and implement more projects for the benefit of more of our countrymen, and to a certain extent, provide some stimulus for jumpstarting our economic recovery,” Angara said.
The senator said extending the budget’s validity would have the following impact:
· 2.5 million more indigent patients will benefit from government assistance by extending the 2021 national budget, given a significant portion of the budget under Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients (MAIP) has yet to be obligated.
· With the Omicron variant threatening to reach our country, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) would be given enough leeway to use unobligated appropriations to hire up to 8,000 more contact tracers for one month.
· The government may help boost the country’s economic recovery by ramping up its spending, particularly in infrastructure, as the private sector reels from the effects of the pandemic. (ai/mtvn)