MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for the year 2020.
The budget bill hurdled the upper chamber after 22 senators voted for its passage with no negative votes or abstentions.
Among the amendments introduced by senators to the budget is a P32-billion increase for the fifth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law, an additional allocation of P6-billion for the Last Mile Schools Program, and P5.17 billion for the Voucher Program for Private Senior High School program of the Department of Education.
The budget for state universities and colleges was also increased as well as for the Philippine General Hospital.
The Senate also provided the Philippine Army with additional budget for the activation of an infantry division to directly address the threat of the Abu Sayyad Group in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. It also increased the budget allocation for the Defense department as well as the Philippine National Police for the anti-insurgency campaign.
The fiscal plan for 2020 was immediately passed by the Senate after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the measure as urgent.
The House of Representatives approved its version of the budget in September.
After the approval of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill, representatives from both chambers of Congress will convene in a bicameral conference committee in December to reconcile differences in the Senate and the House versions of the budget.
The reconciled version of the budget bill will then be sent to Duterte for his approval before the year ends. – RRD (with details from Nel Maribojoc)
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