All of Congress saw the urgency of approving the 2021 national budget on time. We went through two reenacted budgets—one that lasted for four months in 2019 and the other for a few days in 2020. There is too much at stake in the 2021 budget. The economy is set to bounce back after a historic slump this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and any delay in the passage of the budget would be akin to throwing a monkey wrench in the recovery process.
With this sense of urgency among the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the budget measure was transmitted to Malacañang on schedule, giving them enough time to go over the voluminous document and sign it before the year ends.
We thank President Duterte and the hardworking people in the Department of Budget and Management and the Office of the President for working through the Christmas break to review the budget and prepare the final document for today’s signing.
We are now assured that the government will be operating on a new budget on January 1, 2021. This will pave the way for implementation of several key programs, particularly those that pertain to COVID-response:
- the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines once they become available
- support for flexible/distance/blended learning
- strengthening the country’s health system
- assistance to indigent patients
- sustaining contact tracing efforts
- providing free wi-fi in public places and SUCs
- assistance to displaced workers
- social pension for indigents
- supplementary feeding program
- training for work scholarships and special training for employment
- implementation of the Philippine Innovation Act
- implementation of the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act
- speeding up the disposition of cases in the judiciary
- resettlement of residents displaced by calamities
- rehabilitation of areas affected by calamities
The P4.5 trillion 2021 national budget, together with the soon-to-be enacted extension of the validity of funds under the 2020 GAA and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act will provide the government with the tools needed to address the pandemic, help our people to get back on their feet after losing their livelihood and their homes, and revive our economy as we inch slowly towards recovery.