HOUSE, SENATE TO RECONCILE P250-B DIFFERENCE ON PROPOSED 2019 NAT’L BUDGET
Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate met in a bicameral conference on Monday to resume their deliberations on the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The legislators shall reconcile the proposed budget amendments made by both chambers.
While the Senate proposed a P190 billion amendment, the House has only requested a realignment of P51 billion.
Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. (1st District, Camarines Sur), chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said that the House contingent shall 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.
Prior to the suspension of the hearing, the committee has agreed to reapportion P50 billion from the 2019 national budget, in meantime.
When asked if this would suffice, Andaya stated 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 on infrastructure projects.
Further, the legislator also raised to the panel that he has recently discovered a P53 billion allocation in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that the agency did not request from Congress.
"Ito yung project na napapaloob sa original na budget na hinihingi ng Public Works, yung sa ceiling nila na sinasabi ni Secretary Villar. Akala natin lahat malinis na. Yun pala, sa pag-recheck, P53 billion pala dyan...Ang initial report namin ay hindi hiningi o hindi nila alam kung ma-iimplement nila, dahil wala nga sa plano nila yung mga projects na yun," Andaya explained, in an interview.
With this, the House Appropriations Committee shall conduct an investigation on the DPWH budget on January 29, 2019.
Meanwhile, Andaya underscored that the lawmakers shall need to, first, ascertain where the P250 billion realignment will be coming from.
"Kailangan malaman muna namin yung pagkukunan namin. Hindi naman pwedeng oo lang nang oo. Dahil, yun nga, P250 billion yun eh, so saan mo kukunin yun? Dun palang hindi na kami magkakaintindihan," he said.
He also bared that currently Senator Panfilo Lacson proposed the P50 billion realignment, while Senator Ralph Recto proposed to reapportion P75 billion. The Senate shall have a caucus within the day to discuss the budget further.
The bicameral conference committee shall resume its deliberations at 6pm today.
Photo from Philstar