MANILA - Sen. Imee Marcos has filed a bill seeking to extend the validity of the 2020 budget until the end of next year, citing the country's continuing need to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2020 should be extended "to another fiscal year for the welfare of the Filipino people," Marcos said in the explanatory note of Senate Bill No. 1812.
"In truth, the Philippines has had the earliest, longest, and arguably the most costly lockdown in the world, and even as private businesses struggle to restart and recover, so too has government remained unable to fully effect its planned expenditures for this fiscal year," said Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.
The senator also noted that the enactment of the current budget was delayed by nearly a week as President Rodrigo Duterte signed the 2020 spending bill 6 days after the 2019 GAA expired.
Under the law, the national budget will automatically expire by the end of the year.
Congress is authorized under the Constitution to prolong its validity by passing a measure into law.
Last year, the legislative branch extended the 2019 budget's validity until December 31, 2020 after infighting in the House of Representatives delayed its passage.
If Marcos' bill is passed into law, the government can continue to spend the balance of the P4.1-trillion 2020 budget until December 31, 2021, about 3 months before the start of the official campaign season for the 2022 presidential elections.