By Vince Angelo C. Ferreras, October 16 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

SPEAKER Alan Peter S. Cayetano said Wednesday that the House of Representatives hopes to move forward on the 2020 budget, revenue bills, and other legislation covering the government’s socio-economic programs when Congressional sessions resume in November.

When it meets again on Nov. 4, Mr. Cayetano said the chamber will work on fine-tuning the P4.1-trillion 2020 budget.

“One is the budget, kasi whether you talk about agriculture, health, infrastructure, education, babagsak sa budget. Wala tayong excuse, we had all the time to discuss the budget. May isang buwan na during the break na nire-review pa natin at nagpe-prepare tayo sa bicam (the budget affects everything that has to do with agriculture, health, infrastructure, education. There are no excuses for any delays because we had all this time to review. We’ve had a month to prepare for when the budget is tackled in bicameral session),” Mr. Cayetano said in chance remarks to reporters at New Clark City.

He added, “We are very close to the Senators, we are very close to the Secretaries, continued yung interaction natin. (We are in continued interaction with the Senators and the Cabinet) So, walang excuse para hindi maging 2020 budget (There is no excuse for not completing the 2020 budget).”

The House approved the budget bill on third reading on Sept. 20.

Mr. Cayetano also said the various revenue bills will be also discussed before the year ends.

Madaling magsabi ng pera para dito pero saan mo kukunin yung pera? Tatandaan natin from B rating, kung magiging A tayonapakalaking bagay nito sa ating bansa (It’s easy to support funding for various programs but the question is where the funds will come from) he said, noting that funds must be generated in the context of the Philippines’ progress up the credit-rating ladder from B to A, which if achieved, “will be a big thing for the country.”

The House has approved on third reading House Bill No. 1026 imposing additional excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and vape products; HB 300 or the amendments to the Foreign Investment Act of 199; HB 304 or the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA); HB 4157 or the Corporate Income Tax and Incentive Rationalization Act (CITIRA), which was formerly known as the TRABAHO bill.

Other legislation will cover the social services like unconditional cash transfers for the “poorest of the poor” to supplement the current program of conditional cash transfers, which pay low-income families a set amount if they meet certain conditions, like undergoing health checks for women or keeping children in school.

Medyo malalim ang paguusap (the talks will be extensive) to come up with a program (for) the 20 poorest provinces, parati na lang silang ang poorest (which are always the same provinces). So we want to come up with 20 projects for the 20 poorest provinces,” Mr. Cayetano said. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras