Lawmakers are aiming to allocate some P90 billion for the special risk allowances of health workers next year, the chairman of the House appropriations panel said Monday as senators and congressmen moved to reconcile their respective versions of the P5.02 trillion budget for 2022.
Several members of the Senate and the House of Representatives met in a hotel in Mandaluyong City for the first day of the bicameral conference meeting to come up a final budget bill that will be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing.
ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap, who led the House contingent, said next year's budget aims to prioritize the COVID-19 response efforts of the government, which include the provision of special risk allowance for medical frontliners.
"Malaki ang ilalagay natin sa SRA kasi nga yung Department of Health, hindi sila naglagay ng SRA sa National Expenditure Program. Kailangan natin yung SRA kasi marami yung health workers natin ang umaasa dito," he told reporters in an interview.
"Hopefully umabot siya ng P90 billion sa programmed [funds]. Yun yung target namin," he added.
When a budget item is placed under programmed funds, it means there is a definite or identified funding source for it, according to the Department of Budget and Management.
Under the Bayanihan laws, health workers directly catering to COVID-19 patients are entitled to a P5,000 special risk allowance per month.
Senators, however, argued that this should cover all health workers whether or not they are directly treating COVID-19 cases.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan earlier filed a measure institutionalizing the benefits for health workers directly treating patients affected by a disease causing a public health emergency.
Yap said the bicameral deliberations on the 2022 national budget should be finished in four days so that it could be ratified by both chambers next week and signed by the President before Christmas Day.