Andaya insists on scrutinizing budget

Rolando Andaya Jr.

RUSH the budget? The entire Congress will go down.

This is the warning made by House Committee on Appropriations chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. as he stood pat on the Lower Chamber’s decision not to rush the budget approval but instead to scrutinize it in order to realign unnecessary allocations.

Andaya said the succeeding deliberations will be more intense following his disclosure that the senators have budget insertions amounting to P190 billion, much bigger than the House members’ P51 billion.

”The following days in the bicam will be the hardest and the most intense. Kaya kami minamadali na ipasa ang budget kasi nandiyan na naman ang insertions. Nangyari na iyan noong 2018, ngayon sa 2019 budget nandiyan na naman,” Andaya said.

“I will bring this house (Congress) down, if we pass this budget without thinking,” the House leader added.

For 2019, the proposed national budget is P3.767 trillion.

The House and Senate contingents will resume the bicameral meeting for the approval of the proposed national budget.

Andaya said the House is not delaying the approval but is only being cautious especially becausethat Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno has made insertions amounting to P75 billion.

It was also learned that senators have requested P190 billion worth of different realignments for several agencies.

“We (in the House) are not stalling the budget (approval). They want us to pass the budget without thinking because we are only in session until February 6. That would be wrong (forcing our hand). The bicameral panel discussion in the coming days will be the hardest and most intense they will witness,” Andaya said.

Andaya  also said the House contingent will prioritize the amendments as called for by former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Ang unang pinaabot sa akin ng ating Speaker is yung P10 billion sa DoH, P20 billion sa DA, sa Housing P350 million, so yun ang uunahin ko,” he said.

The bicameral conference committee has   agreed to reapportion P50 billion from the 2019 national budget in the meantime.

When asked if this would suffice, Andaya said that “Para sa House, mukhang okay na yun. But considering yung total request ng Senado ay P198 billion, eh napakalayo sa pangangailangan nila. Kami, P51 billion yung hiningi namin, so pasok na pasok sa amin. Walang problema.”

Andaya cited that there is a P250 billion difference between the House and Senate versions, which has a high allocation for infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, Andaya pointed out that the lawmakers shall need to, first, ascertain where the P250 billion realignment will be coming from.