SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian said the government should continue pouring in funds for Covid-19 response, but income and job generation should also be priorities in the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget next year.
“Ang taong 2022 ay Covid-19 year pa rin. Dapat tutukan pa rin natin ang paglaban sa Covid-19 kaya ibig sabihin kailangan ng sapat na pondong pambili ng vaccines, hospital support, medical frontliners’ support at suporta sa mga gamot na panlaban sa Covid-19 (2022 is still a Covid-19 year. We should continue to focus on our fight against Covid-19 and that means that we need sufficient funds for the purchase of vaccines, hospital support, medical frontliners’ support and support for Covid medicines),” Gatchalian said.
Government-financed short-term and other job-generating programs to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that is essential to economic recovery should likewise be given precedence over other items, the senator said.
Small businesses are in a survival mode, so the government must see to it that they make it through 2022 and assure that they start to recover in 2023, said Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Senate economic affairs committee.
He said the resignation of Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado will not slow down Congress’ deliberations on the national expenditure.
“The DBM is institution-ready. Mayroon naman silang mechanisms (They have the mechanisms in place) to make sure that the budget is submitted on time. Importante na masumite ito on time dahil once ma-delay ‘yan, delayed na lahat (It is important to submit it on time because once it is delayed, everything will follow),” Gatchalian said, empathizing with Avisado for prioritizing his health after contracting Covid-19 earlier this month.
Malacanang has announced that it will submit the 2022 National Expenditure Program to Congress on Monday.