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House starts tackling national budget today

  • Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 311

THE House committee on appropriations will begin this morning the deliberations on President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s first national budget, or the P3.35 trillion General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, who chairs the panel, said the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) will make a presentation of the budget overview, including the macro-economic assumptions, projected borrowings and sources of funds for the country’s annual operations.
   
“We will begin the budget briefings were department and agency in government all the way up to September 13. Then on September 19 we will bring the budget to the floor for plenary debates,” Nograles said, adding he is hoping that President Duterte will be able to sign the national budget into law or as General Appropriations Act (GAA) by December 7.
   
The DBCC, which is an inter-agency body, is composed of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DoF) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
   
Nograles said the proposed budget of P3.35 trillion, which is 11.6 percent higher than last year’s P3.002 trillion, reflects the Duterte administration’s priorities next year as it intensifies efforts to combat crime, illegal drugs and corruption, enhance economic growth through regional development, and bring about other reforms.
   
Majority Floor Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas, a stalwart of the of the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), said the House of Representatives will ratify the national budget by December.
   
“We will pass the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) in time for the President to sign it into the General Appropriations Act (GAA) on or before we adjourn on December 14. This will be the first National Expenditure Program (NEP) of President Rody and we will see his priorities for his first year in office,” Fariñas said.
   
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the budgets for 2017 until 2022 will support the President’s promise to improve the country’s infrastructure, invest in human resources, modernize agriculture and rural development, and develop lagging regions.
   
For 2017, the budget for conditional cash transfer which was increased to P78.7 billion to benefit 4.62 families, including the P23.4 billion rice allowance.
   
The following are the departments that will get big appropriations: Department of Education (P567 billion); Department of Public Works and Highways (458 billion); Department of Interior and Local Government (P150 billion); Department of National Defense (P134 billion); and, Department of Social Welfare and Development (P129 billion).
   
It was also learned that the budget of the Office of the President was raised to P20 billion from P2.8 billion in this year’s national budget because additional agencies where attached to the office.
 
But the national budget for next year placed the allocation for the Office of the Vice President at P433 million which is lower than its present P503 million budget.
   
The Philippine National Police (PNP) will get P110.4 billion to beef up the drive against crime, illegal drugs, terrorism, hire more policemen, and fund a drugs rehabilitation program while the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been given P130.6 billion.

At the same time, the national budget pegged the total lump sum of the Special Purpose Funds (SPF) to P1.3 trillion, which is higher than this year’s P1.28 trillion.

SPF includes Budgetary Support to Government Corporations (P148 billion); Allocation to Local Government Units (P554 billion); National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (P37 billion); Contingent Fund (P5.5 billion from P2.5 billion in 2016); Miscellaneous Personnel and Benefits Fund (P96 billion); Pension and Gratuity Fund (P142 billion); Customs duties and taxes including tax expenditure (P19 billion); and, Debt Interest Payments (P334 billion).

Nograles reiterated his assurance of the timely passage of the national budget.

“Being the first budget proposal of the new administration, we expect the budget to focus on the primary objectives of the President as he clearly enunciated over the course of the campaign; namely, peace and order, anti-drugs, anti-corruption, wider infrastructure, better transportation, focus on education, health and social protection, enhanced opportunities for Mindanao, the ARMM (Autonomous Region and Muslim Mindanao) and more provinces,” Nograles said.

“The House of Representatives will not falter in its role of enacting a 2017 budget on time. And with the Speaker’s support, together with the Majority Floor Leader and all the members of the supermajority, including the minority, I am confident that together - as we play our respective roles as representatives of the people -- we will pass a budget that we can all be proud of,” Nograles added.(RPP)