MANILA—Senator Loren Legarda on Wednesday said Senate and House lawmakers could come up with a “compromise” next week, as the bicameral conference committee meeting on the proposed P3.75-trillion 2019 national budget resumes Monday, January 28.
House lawmakers have “committed” to finish it on or before January 31 for a ratification on February 6, said Legarda, who chairs the Senate committee on finance.
“I have [the] commitment of Congressman Rolando Andaya [chairman of the House committee on appropriations], and they are just reviewing all their amendments and Senate amendments," Legarda said.
"Hopefully by Monday we will iron out the differences and come up with an agreement or compromise.”
The contested P75-billion additional budget allotted to the Department of Public Works and Highways was dissolved and divided into a number of government projects such as the Hospital Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), which will be given an additional P16 billion, she said.
The lawmaker also backed Andaya’s suggestion to hold a televised bicameral budget meeting, saying that “everybody is entitled to know what is happening in the budgetary processes."
Approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act was delayed after lawmakers questioned the additional P75 billion allocated to the DPWH, allegedly "inserted" by budget chief Benjamin Diokno. Diokno has denied wrongdoings.