SENATE APPROVES EXTENSION OF FUNDING UNDER NATIONAL BUDGET, BAYANIHAN 2
The Senate on Tuesday approved on 3rd and final reading the measure to extend the availability of a total P148 billion in unspent funds under the 2020 national budget and the Bayanihan 2 laws beyond their original deadline.
Without the bills extending the appropriations’ validity, the funds would have reverted to the National Treasury on the date the bills were set to lapse: December 19, 2020 for Bayanihan 2, and December 31, 2020 for the 2020 GAA.
Senator Sonny Angara, head of the Senate committee on finance and sponsor of the bills, said only the appropriations under Bayanihan 2 are extended, not the special powers the measure afforded President Rodrigo Duterte to address the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has disrupted our lives. We’ve had to change how we work, how we study, how we interact with each other, and how we purchase our necessities, among others. Government agencies were not spared, as they too had to adjust – foregoing plans and programs for the sake of the COVID-19 response,” Angara said.
Because of these difficulties, many government agencies were unable to promptly implement programs and projects for which funds were appropriated to them under the 2020 GAA and Bayanihan 2.
“These unreleased balances add up to P148 billion, which is no small amount. Allowing these appropriations to lapse amid a pandemic and a recession would have significant impacts,” Angara said.
The outstanding appropriations under Bayanihan 2 includes P10 billion allotted for COVID-19 vaccines. Along with P72.5 billion allotted for COVID-19 vaccines under the 2021 GAA, the government expects to have a total appropriation of P82.5 billion for COVID-19 vaccines in 2021.
President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to sign the 2021 GAA into law.