Wednesday, November 27, 2013
There will be no budget deadlock, Drilon assures
MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon is confident that the House of Representatives and the Senate will be able to reach agreement on how to resolve the differences in their versions of the 2014 General Appropriations Bill. The Senate passed yesterday its own version.
“I am confident that we will come into agreement. I’m not worried that there will be a deadlock. I have gone through this numerous times in the past. There can be difficulties sometimes, but at the end of the day, reasonable people can come up with an agreement that is acceptable not only to both chambers but also to the Filipino public in general,” said Drilon.
“We have an obligation to restore the people’s trust in the government. Transparency and accountability will be the order of the day,” he added.
The senators put forward several amendments in the General Appropriations Bill submitted by the House of Representatives.
The Senate lowered the proposed national budget from the original amount of P2.268-trillion to P2.265-trillion, representing a P3.2 billion decrease which resulted from the deletion of the senators' allocations for the now unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
"The decrease in the budget proposal was the result of the decision of the 15 senators and the vice president who opted to delete their PDAF allocations worth P200 million each, as the Supreme Court recently ruled that the PDAF is unconstitutional," explained Drilon.
Moreover, the Senate moved to increase several items in the budget. These included the P5.5 billion budget increase for calamity fund and P600 million increase in quick response funds for the Department of Health and Department of Transportation and Communication to better capacitate the government in responding to calamities that may hit the country next year.
The Senate also carved out P100 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction program on areas heavily hit by the recent disastrous events particularly typhoons Yolanda, Labuyo, Santi, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Visayas region and the siege in Zamboanga City, noted Drilon.
“In total, we have allocated P100 billion for rehabilitation program to be undertaken by the line agencies next year, and of which, P20 billion is funded, and P80 billion is unprogrammed, which funds shall serve as standby authority and ready authorization for spending once we receive the foreign donations and grants for victims of typhoon Yolanda,” said Drilon.
The Senate version likewise realigned P2.5 billion from the P5 billion lump-sum appropriation for scholarships to the budget of 112 state colleges and universities to manage their own scholarship programs for deserving students. The Senate also increased the budget of the University of the Philippines by P438 million.
Lastly, the Senate President proposed to delete the provisions in the budget proposal which are contrary to the ruling of the Supreme Court on the unconstitutionality of the PDAF.
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