Senate set to tackle 2020 budget in plenary

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 10) — The Senate is set to begin plenary debates Monday on the proposed ₱4.1-trillion 2020 budget.

Senate Finance committee chair Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said he will be sponsoring the committee report on the fiscal plan in plenary, in accordance with a timetable that eyes the budget to be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte by the third week of December at the latest.

Congress leaders are keen on avoiding another delayed passage of the budget, as it slowed down the country’s economy for two quarters this year.

“The experience has only underscored that for us to maintain our country’s momentum and upward trajectory, we can afford no more delays, especially when public spending can account for up to 20 percent of the entire economy,” Angara said Sunday.

He assured that there is adequate funding for education, health and transportation infrastructure in the 2020 budget.

The passage of the 2019 budget was delayed due to accusations among lawmakers of allegedly anomalous insertions, which were eventually vetoed by Duterte.

Allegations of “pork” remain, with Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson claiming that some ₱20 billion lump sum funds have been inserted into allocations for several agencies. House leaders have denied this.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the lower chamber has realigned ₱9.52 billion from the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Commission on Elections to increase funding for 12 government agencies, including the Agriculture, Education and Health departments.