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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Budget measure 'on track' for September 30 passage, says appro panel officials
06 September 2022 04:25:56 PM

After more than a week of tedious and lengthy budget deliberations
with the individual departments, House Committee on Appropriations
officials said Tuesday that the proposed P5.268-trillion national
spending plan for 2023 is still on track for its third and final reading passage by October 1.

"As of yesterday (Monday), 14 out of 34 agencies have briefed Congress
regarding their respective budget proposals," Marikina City 2nd
District Rep. Stella Quimbo, senior vice chairperson of the House
Committee on Appropriations, said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan
Majority News Forum.

"With two more weeks of budget briefings, the appropriations
committee, led by Chairperson Elizaldy Co, gladly shares that we are
still on track with our target date to pass the GAB by October
1, 2022. On September 16, we are expected to finish the budget
hearings and head on to plenary debates by September 21. Even before
the budget hearings commenced, everyone took their tasks seriously by
having clear communication lines with the agencies," Quimbo said.

The GAB stands for the General Appropriations Bill, which is the
budget measure to be filed by the House just before the plenary

The P5.268-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2023 is the
precursor of the GAB.

"Healthy exchanges between departments and members of Congress
transpired during the said budget briefings. Among the agencies that
briefed the Committee on Appropriations were the DBCC, DA, DOE, DILG,
the DENR, DOT, and the Office of the President. Today, the hearing for
the DSWD is underway," Quimbo said.

She shared that thus far, the discussions in the budget briefings have
revolved around some of the key spending priorities of 2023
budget. These include the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization
Program and the Total Electrification Program, among others.
Quimbo said that various issues had been raised with the different
agencies throughout the hearings.

"Halos lahat ay humingi ng konsiderasyon sa kanilang mas mataas na
budget proposal na sinumite sa DBM. Bagamat sinuportahan ito ng
maraming kongresista, hindi pa clearly identified ang mga programang
pwedeng pagkunan ng budget increases. Ayon sa Konstitusyon, hindi na
pwedeng palitan ang budget ceiling na 5.268 T. Kaya’t kung tataasan
ang halaga ng isang budget item, kelangan bawasan ang isa pang budget
item," Quimbo said.

"Gayunpaman, hindi rin naman ganun kataas and budget utilization rate
ng ilang ahensya. The absorptive capacity of the agencies is a
perennial challenge kaya dapat mapagtuunan talaga ng pansin ang
pagbabantay sa execution ng budget," Quimbo explained.

"Devolution was also a recurring issue, particularly in DILG and DENR.
Lawmakers have shown concern regarding the capacity of LGUs
to absorb the devolved functions from national agencies, especially
with a smaller NTA from last year. Finally, we observed that
digitalization is a common theme in the agencies' plans to improve
their overall operations," she said.

At any rate, Quimbo said Congress still stands by its goal for the
swift passage of the GAB to allow sufficient time for it to exercise
its oversight functions.

"This way, we can ensure that the agencies will not only use their
respective budgets for programs in alignment with the new
administration’s 8-point socioeconomic agenda but will also be
genuinely felt by the Filipino people who will benefit from their
programs. Rest assured that we will continue to work harder to achieve
these goals without compromising on producing a high-quality national
budget aimed for prosperity," she concluded.(END)