Noting that the government was basically shackled for three months because of the COVID-19 crisis, a Mindanao congressman is proposing to extend the life of the current P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020.
Davao Oriental 2nd district Rep. Joel Mayo Almario filed House Bill (HB) No.7645, which, if enacted, would extend the availability of funds of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2020 until December 31, 2021.
“The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic resulted in temporary suspensions and delays in the implementation of many governmental programs, projects, and other activities to be funded out from the GAA of 2020,” said Almario, a Majority Bloc member in the House of Representatives.
He said government infrastructure projects were halted for more or less an aggregate of three months due to government measures to curb the spread of the virus. This mainly covers the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) period, which was first imposed by Malacañang in March.
The ECQ was designed to control the contagion by limiting the movement of people through the suspension or work and public transportation. This also had an adverse effect on the economy, however.
“The aggregate three-month long hiatus of the national infrastructure program of the national government already comprises a quarter of 2020–a significant amount of time to consider,” Almario said.
“In order to be proactive in this trying times of an impending and inevitable recession brought by the pandemic, and in order to fully utilize the allotted funds of the country, the extension of the 2020 GAA is sought,” he further said.
The lawmaker said the measure will give the country a “much- needed economic boost in 2021 by providing more jobs in order to counterpoint the future restrictions under the ‘new normal.’”
Almario filed his bill even as the Lower Chamber is perusing the proposed P4.506-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2021. The NEP is the basis of the General Appropriations Bill, which upon enactment becomes the GAA.