House begins hearings on proposed P3.7-T budget PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 August 2017 16:21

By Dexter Yap

The House of Representatives has started yesterday its scrutiny of the 2018 proposed national budget amounting to P3.767-trillion, dubbed as “The Budget that Reforms and Transforms.”

The budget was submitted by President Rodrigo Duterte to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III during the culmination of his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week.

The budget hearings begun yesterday with a briefing by members of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the inter-agency body that determines the overall economic targets, expenditure levels, and sources of funds.

The DBCC recommends to the President the following: level of annual government expenditures and the ceiling of government spending for economic and social development, national defense, and government debt service; proper allocation of expenditures for each development activity between current operating expenditures and capital outlays; and amount set to be allocated for capital outlays broken down into the various capital or infrastructure projects.

The DBCC presentation was done by its members: Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno; National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto Pernia; Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez; and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr.

The DBCC briefing was followed by the presentation of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairperson Andrea Domingo.

Rep. Celso L. Lobregat, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, enjoined his colleagues to do their share in studying, reviewing and scrutinizing the 2018 national budget proposal to ensure the expenditure items will truly benefit the people.

When President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his second SONA last week, he ended his speech with the formal turnover of his proposed budget for 2018. If not the first time in history, it is definitely a rarity that the President submits his proposed budget on the day of the SONA, according to Lobregat.

As House members deliberate over the financing proposals of each and every department, office and bureau of government, Lobregat said they must find in the budget the answers to the people’s most pressing and urgent concerns.

Among the tasks of House members, according to Lobregat, is one, ensure that the budget contains the wage increase for the government workers, as well as additional increases on the take home pay of government’s military, police and other uniformed personnel, as promised by President Duterte.

Two, present to the Filipino nation a budget that effectively fights crime, restores the peace and enforcing the law. “In this time of crisis, our people must see our government fully funded to defend our land against all forms of terror and defend our shores against terrorists from other lands,” he said.

Meanwhile, in his Budget Message to Congress, President Duterte said the 2018 national budget of P3.767 trillion is 12.4 percent higher than this year’s budget of P3.35 trillion, and constitutes 21.6 percent of the GDP. “An indication that we need to put in more work to sustain the change in governance, which we have begun,” said the President.

The President explained that the 2018 budget was crafted on the following principles: credible and disciplined fiscal policies; fiscal space focused on equitable progress and social order; strengthening transparency, participation and accountability; and enhancing partnerships with local governments to ensure sustainable development.

The education sector will get the biggest chunk of the budget with a funding of P691.1 billion broken down as follows: Department of Education (DepED), P613.1 billion; Commission on Higher Education (CHED), P13.5 billion; and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), P64.6 billion.

The other agencies with the highest budgetary allocations are: Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),P643.3 billion; Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), P172.3 billion; Department of Health (DOH), P164.3 billion; Department of National Defense (DND), P145 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P138 billion; Department of Transportation (DOTr), P73.8 billion; Department of Agriculture (DA), P54.2 billion; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), P33.5 billion; and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), P27.9 billion. – (Dexter Yap)