House eyes final approval of proposed 2018 budget on Sept. 12

MANILA -- The House of Representatives is eyeing to give its final approval on the proposed PHP3.767-trillion national budget for 2018 by September 12, a slight delay than the original schedule of September 8.

In a statement on Wednesday, House appropriations committee chair and Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said the delay was caused by the deferral of the plenary debates on the budgets of some government agencies.

He explained that the deferrals were a sign of lawmakers' displeasure over the performance of the agencies or its officials.

"While a good number of the debates on departments and their attached agencies have been terminated, discussions on the budget of a handful of these offices have been deferred to next week," Nograles said.

"These deferrals resulted from motions of congressmen who were apparently not satisfied with the explanations that they got during the course of the plenary debates and were duly seconded by the plenary. That's the power of the purse in action," he added.

The plenary debates on House Bill No. 6215 or the 2018 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) started Monday.

Among the agencies whose budget deliberations were deferred so far include the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Cultural Center of the Philippines, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Agriculture (DA).

Other offices were the National Electrification Administration (NEA), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), National Housing Authority (NHA), National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, Social Housing Finance Corporation, Home Guaranty Corporation, and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Nograles said the proposed GAB is expected to be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on or before November 15.

"At the end of the day, we want to pass a national budget that is just and attuned to the people's needs," Nograles said.

The education sector will get the biggest chunk of the budget with a funding of PHP691.1 billion, higher by PHP41.7 billion compared to 2017.

Nograles also noted that next year's budget will also provide the foundation for sustainable development through funding a massive infrastructure program complemented by reforms in programs for peace, security and ecological integrity.

Over the medium-term, the Duterte administration will need to raise substantial funding for its Build, Build, Build Program, he said, noting that this amounts to PHP1.097 trillion which is 27.9 percent higher than the 2017 allocation of PHP858.1 billion.

The other agencies with the highest budgetary allocations are: Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), PHP643.3 billion; Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), PHP172.3 billion; Department of Health (DOH), PHP164.3 billion; Department of National Defense (DND), PHP145 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), PHP138 billion; Department of Transportation (DOTr), PHP73.8 billion; Department of Agriculture (DA), PHP54.2 billion; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), PHP33.5 billion; and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PHP27.9 billion.

Source: Philippine News Agency