Budget placed under scrutiny

September 23, 2018
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wanted to finish the budget deliberation on time but allowed all interested House members, both administration and opposition, to raise questions and concerns on every department.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

According to Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr., the Speaker wanted all interpellations on agencies scheduled for the day to be finished regardless of time.

The floor is open to all, including the independent opposition led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Makabayan bloc, who wanted to question the budget and programs of every department.

The proposed budget for 2019 is P3.757 trillion.

“We’re off to a good a start. First day of budget debates was long but productive. But the Speaker wanted all interpellation on agencies scheduled for the day to be finished regardless of time,” Andaya said.

“This on top of the exhaustive debates on the general principles, the major programs, the fiscal program, the macroeconomic assumptions and the sources of financing of next year’s expenditure program. Debate was never curtailed, nor abbreviated,” he added.

In the continuation of the plenary deliberations on House Bill 8169 or the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), the House of Representatives is focusing on the breakdown of the proposed national budget of P3.757-trillion.

Compostela Valley Rep.  Maria Carmen Zamora, Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Appropriations, reported that the 2019 budget is supported by new general appropriations of about P2.882 trillion which accounts for 72.9 percent of the total budget, and automatic appropriations of P1.071 trillion or 27.1 percent of the total budget.

HB 8169 seeks to authorize for 2019 a total new general appropriations of P2.882 trillion consisting of programmed new appropriations of P2.685 trillion and unprogrammed new general appropriations of P197.1 billion.

The 197.1 billion can only be spent if and when actual revenue collections for the year exceed the targeted revenue per the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF), or when new foreign loans or grants are received.

The lion’s share of allocations shall go to the social services sector with P1.377 trillion, or 36.7 percent of the total 2019 budget.

Under this, the Department of Education  (DepEd) shall be allocated P43.7 billion for its Basic Educational Facilities Program and P32.1 billion for the Government Assistance to Students in Private Schools and in Non-DepEd Public Schools.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) shall receive P51 billion for the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education.

Funding for other major programs under the social services sector include:  P67 billion for the National Health Insurance Program; P15.2 billion for the purchase of drugs and medicines; P88.1 billion for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps); and P23.2 billion for the benefits of senior citizens.

The economic services sector shall receive about P1.068 trillion, or 28.4 percent of the total budget.

Key projects to be funded under this sector are the four Clark City “Build, Build, Build” projects: the Subic Clark Railway Project; New Clark City Government Administrative Center; Clark International Airport Expansion Project-Engineering Procurement  and Construction for the new International Passenger Terminal; and Clark International Airport Project Operations and Maintenance.