Wednesday, September 02, 2009

House starts budget deliberations

MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Prospero Nograles on Wednesday called on each member of Congress to "set aside divisive politics for the time being" as the House of Representatives starts committee deliberations on the proposed P1.541-trillion national budget for 2010.

"The proposed General Appropriations Act should propel the nation's economic take-off, and we cannot afford to jeopardize our hard-earned strides in the wake of the lingering economic risks," Nograles said.

The House Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Junie Cua (Lone Dist., Quirino) has begun its open public hearings Wednesday morning, starting with the macro level presentations by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) composed of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Finance (DoF)and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

"We should first assess where we are, what our options are and what directions we must trek," chairman Cua said as he revealed the subsequent schedules of the line agencies for the succeeding public hearings next week.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, Jr., said the proposed national outlay is the "final budget of my administration," and that the 2010 GAA looks beyond 2010, "so that future generations can build on what this administration is leaving as legacy."

"We will look into the President's legacy budget with objectivity," Nograles said.

Scheduled to appear before the Cua panel today were Sec. Andaya (DBM), Sec. Augusto B. Santos (NEDA), Sec. Margarito Teves (Finance), and Bangko Sentral Gov. Amando M. Tetangco, Jr.

Andaya earlier noted that the proposed GAA has its bias for public services delivery with almost one third of the P1.541-trillion or P479.9-billion is earmarked for social services.

The 2010 budget also contains the P10.6-billion budget to fund the operations of the Comelec and cover the expenses for the coming 2010 elections.

Of the 2010 social services funds, P235-billion will fund education and manpower development, including DepEd's share of P172.8-billion, and P101-billion for social security and welfare programs, of which P10-billion will be in direct cash transfer to 700.000 poor families.

The DBM said the GAA is anchored on a population of 94.01 million (2010), from 92.23 million this year. The population increase, Sec. Andaya said, requires proportionate increases in school buildings, police personnel, and other social and health services, among other programs.

"I also urged my colleagues to attend the budget hearings and express their concerns to help fine tune the various national programs. There must be synchronicity between local and national programs to attain maximum results that are more meaningful to the poor masses," Nograles said. (Gil Bugaoisan)

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