THE SENATE will ensure that no lump-sum appropriations make it into the final version of the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said Wednesday, after the House of Representatives officially transmitted its budget bill to the chamber.
“Hopefully, wala talaga, paglabas sa’min walang lump sum. Kung meron man, maliwanag kung san pupunta, naka-line item (I hope there are no lump-sum items by the time we’re done. If there are any, it will be clarified in line-item form,” Mr. Sotto said at an online briefing Wednesday.
Mr. Sotto said the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will come in for particular attention after Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, finance committee vice chairman, flagged “illegal” insertions.
“Pagdating sa DPWH palagay ko ‘yung aming committee of finance, si Senator Angara, will not mince words (I think Senator Angara, who heads the finance committee, will not mince words) if they find something sticking out like a sore thumb in the budget,” he said.
“And then of course, we have Senator Lacson who has been scrutinizing most of the lump sums if ever there are lump sums.”
Mr. Lacson last week pointed out the “uniform” distribution of funds to 42 districts, which were inserted in the National Expenditure Program after the DPWH made changes to its proposed budget.
He had also questioned budget cuts in national road projects and increased funding for local projects, such as multi-purpose buildings and facilities.
The House late Tuesday transmitted House Bill No. 7727 to the Senate ahead of schedule, giving the Senate more time to review the spending plan before sessions reopen starting Nov. 9.
Mr. Lacson said the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Juan Edgardo M. Angara, will likely introduce the Senate version of the national budget on Nov. 10. He said interpellation may close by Nov. 17 and the amendment period by Nov. 24.
“Ang ibig sabihin hopefully from that time hanggang Dec. 8, barring unforeseen circumstances especially sa bicam (In effect, from that time to Dec. 8, barring unforeseen circumstances especially those involving the bicameral conference committee), the bicam report will be approved Dec. 8,” he said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan