The chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations said Monday he was hopeful that senators and congressmen would agree on the final version of the P3.757-trillion national budget
for 2019 by Friday.
At the same time, Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., the panel chairman, said both chambers of Congress were expected to transmit the money measure to Malacañang by March 29.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said Monday the meeting between the representatives from both chambers of Congress yielded “some progress” in a bid to break the impasse on the proposed 2019 national budget.
Lacson said both the House and Senate contingents will meet again on Tuesday to discuss and finalize an agreement in their budget talks.
“Some progress. We’re still working on it. [We] will meet again tomorrow [Tuesday]. Hopefully, we can follow through and finalize tomorrow,” Lacson said after the meeting concluded at the Senate.
Andaya made his statement as Senators Loren Legarda, Lacson and Gringo Honasan met with their House counterparts led by Andaya in the Senate Monday. Andaya was joined by Rep. Ronaldo Zamora of San Juan and Edcel Lagman of Albay in attempt to break the budget impasse.
“We will come up with an understanding that we will really have a new budget. We want to hurry it up and hopefully before the 29th [of March] a new budget would have been signed, Andaya said.
Lagman echoed Andaya.
“The dialogue is in progress and we are going to meet again tomorrow [Tuesday] night at 7 p.m. The senate panel will have to talk with the SP [Senate President Vicente Sotto III], so hopefully, by tomorrow night we could resolve the impasse. As long as we are talking, then there’s light at the end of the tunnel, Lagman said.
Andaya said the House leadership did not change anything and only itemized the lump-sum fund that was agreed upon during the bicameral conference committee.
During the meeting, Andaya said they were able to explain to the senators the side of the House and the Senate explained their part too regarding the budget disagreement.
Earlier, the House leadership appointed Andaya, Zamora, and Lagman, who are all lawyers, to represent the chamber in a last-ditch effort to break the budget deadlock with the senators.
“Our representatives are not only lawyers; they are also experts in all aspects of the budget process: preparation, authorization, legislation and accountability, the House said in a statement.
The House said the appointment of veteran lawyer-congressmen was in line with the Speaker’s instruction to observe four guideposts for the negotiation. They had to ensure that the 2019 GAA would not only be constitutional and legal but must pass the test of transparency and accountability. With PNA
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