President Duterte may be able to sign the proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget before Christmas, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Wednesday.

sotto5 - 2021 GAB could be ready for PRRD’s signature before Christmas — Sotto
Sen. Vicente Sotto III
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sotto said that with the transmission of the House of Representatives of the budget bill on Tuesday, he expects the timely approval of the budget.

“Barring unforeseen circumstances, the bicam (bicameral conference committee) report (on the budget) will be approved by December 8. If that happens, before Christmas, we expect the President to be able to sign it or at the very latest before the end of the year,” Sotto said in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

“Hopefully, we’ll come up with a very good, clean, and well-addressed 2021 budget focused on the pandemic and the economic recovery of the country,” the Senate leader said.

With the submission of the House version to the Senate of the budget bill last Tuesday, Sotto said he expects the sponsorship of the measure by Nov. 10, Tuesday, or a day after Congress resumes session.

Senators can start interpellating the budget bill by November 11 to 17, finish the period of amendments by November 24, and approve the budget bill on second and third reading.

Afterwards, both the Senate and House can convene for the bicameral conference committee to thresh out the differing provisions on the budget bill.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to thresh it out kung meron silang hindi gusto sa kilos namin (if they do not approve of some things we decided on), I’m sure Speaker (Lord Allan) Velasco will let me know right away,” Sotto said.

“And kami naman, kung may kailangan kaming iparating sa kanila, paparatingin ko din  agad (And if we have anything to say to them, I will immediately inform them),” he assured.

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