New budget or bust - Andaya

THE House of Representatives wants a new budget for 2019.

This is the response of the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations Rolando Andaya Jr. to the proposal by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III to withdraw the General Appropriations Bill and instead use a reenacted budget.

“We want a new budget and we are against a reenacted one,” Andaya insisted.

According to Andaya, while the proposal of Sotto is a matter internal to the Senate, the position of the House remains unchanged.

Andaya also said the House is prepared to lay down their cards and justify their insertions amounting to P52 billion.

“Long before senators called for transparency, we have unilaterally announced that we are ready and willing to disclose and justify our amendments to the national budget,” Andaya said.

Earlier, Andaya revealed that the senators have insertions in the national budget amounting to P190 billion, of which P50 billion was Senator Panfilo Lacson’s.

The senators did not deny the insertions but as of today have yet to make public what are the projects that would be funded with the insertions and who would benefit.

Like Andaya, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also urged the Senate to inform the public where the P190-billion insertions would go.

Asked to comment on Sotto’s proposal, Arroyo said they want the items sorted out before it’s too late.

“So I think you have read in the newspapers that the Senate owned up to P190 billion in their own amendments. So that has to be sorted out between the House and the Senate,” Arroyo said.

The House leader will let the House contingent in the bicameral conference committee, led by Andaya, to decide the matter.

For his part Andaya is still hoping for a positive result in the bicam meeting.

“I urge my Senate friends not to abandon the bicameral conference proceedings.  I remain hopeful of a positive outcome,” Andaya said.

The proposed 2019 national budget is  P3.757 trillion.