Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is out to ensure that the first budget bill passed under his watch as House head honcho gets enacted on time.
“We are looking forward to the bicameral conference on the 2021 GAB (General Appropriations Bill) and hopefully, we will be able to ratify the bicam report before Congress adjourns for the holidays,” he said in a statement Sunday, or a day before the resumption of sessions.
Transmitted by the House leadership to the Senate last October 27 was the P4.506-trillion GAB, the biggest in the country’s history in terms of amount. For comparison, the current 2020 budget is worth P4.1 trillion.
Velasco said the record-high budget is the government’s “single-most powerful tool” to fight COVID-19 and help the economy and the people recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.
Majority Floor Leader Martin Romualdez agreed with Velasco in that the prospective signing of the 2021 GAB into law before the end of the year remains the top priority of the 301-strong House.
“On top of these priorities is the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act, which the House expects to ratify as soon as both chambers (House and Senate) agree to reconcile the conflicting provisions in a bicameral conference,” said Romualdez.
The 24-member Senate is expected to come up with their own version of the GAB based on the House version after a few weeks. This would then pave the way for the bicam meetings where a contingent from both chambers will thresh out the differences between the two versions.
The resulting measure would then be ratified and signed by President Duterte.
Velasco was officially installed as Speaker last October 13. The House then approved the GAB on third and final reading on October 16.