MANILA – The Senate and House of Representatives are set to meet again next week to settle the issues in the P3.7-trillion proposed 2019 national budget, according to Sen. Loren Legarda.
Legarda on Thursday said she will be joined by senators Panfilo Lacson and Gregorio Honasan II in the meeting with the congressmen, which is tentatively scheduled on March 25.
“We hope to meet on Monday and resolve the issues once and for all so the country can move forward,” said Legarda, Senate Finance Committee chairwoman.
The meeting between the Senate and the House was set after the latter decided to withdraw its version of the budget bill, which senators said have realignments made after its ratification.
Even after retrieving the budget books it sent to the Senate, House Appropriations chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. clarified that they are not withdrawing the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) it approved.
Andaya said in a statement on Thursday that the lawmakers did “nothing unconstitutional, illegal or irregular when we approved and ratified the 2019 GAB in plenary session.”
“The House leadership has dispatched the Secretary-General to the Senate to physically retrieve the budget books that we sent to the senators. This is in-line with the Speaker’s instruction to allow a last-ditch effort to break the budget impasse,” he said.
Andaya added: “We are giving ourselves five days to complete this task. We want to make it clear, though. We are not withdrawing or backtracking from our earlier position.”
The 2019 national budget bill was ratified in early February but stayed in the House and not immediately transmitted to the Senate and Malacañang as congressmen said they had to itemize the lump sums.
The government is operating on a reenacted budget and the Palace and finance officials have warned that remaining in this setup could affect the country’s economic growth for 2019./PN