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Duterte signs bills extending budget, Bayanihan II validity

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte signed measures extending the validity of the funds authorized by the 2020 national budget as well as those appropriated for the government’s second stimulus package.

Malacañang on Wednesday released the copies of the signed Republic Act (RA) No. 11520 and RA No. 11519, which had been passed by Congress over the last few weeks of 2020.

RA No. 11520 extends the availability of all appropriations authorized under the 2020 national spending plan, including the fiscal support for government-owned and -controlled corporations and the allocations for infrastructure capital outlays, until Dec. 31, 2021. The law aims to continue the financing of infrastructure projects that were identified for procurement last year. The projects must be completed not later than the end of 2021.

The law, however, contains no extension of the President’s powers to reprogram, reallocate, and realign savings from the 4.1-trillion national budget last year.

RA No. 11519 extends the availability of funds appropriated through RA No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II), which was passed last year to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy. Bayanihan II expired on Dec. 19.

The new law allows government agencies to release the remainder of the P165.5 billion authorized under Bayanihan II, which includes the P25.5 billion in “standby” money which was contingent on the identification of funding sources.

Legislators expressed concerns about the slow disbursement of Bayanihan II in the wake of sweeping job losses and other problems that emerged during the pandemic.

On Dec. 28, Mr. Duterte signed the 4.5-trillion national budget for 2021. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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