Drilon assures no deadlock on 2014 budget bicam

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Nov 27 (PNA) — There will be no deadlock on the 2014 national budget, Senate President Franklin Drilon assured Wednesday.

Drilon said that he was even confident that both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be able to agree on how to resolve the differences in their versions of the 2014 General Appropriations Bill.

The Senate passed its own version last Tuesday (Nov 26).

“There can be difficulties sometimes, but at the end of the day, reasonable people can come up with an agreement that is acceptable not only to both chambers but also to the Filipino public in general,” Drilon said in a statement.

He explained that the bicameral had the obligation to restore the people’s trust in the government so transparency and accountability “will be the order of the day”.

The House version of the General Appropriations Bill had several amendments which the senators had put forward.

One of which is the Senate having lowered the proposed national budget from the original amount of P2.268-trillion to P2.265-trillion.

This represented a P3.2 billion decrease which resulted from the deletion of the senators’ allocations for the now unconstitutional pork barrel.

Drilon said that the decrease in the budget proposal was the decision of 15 senators and the vice president who opted to delete their pork barrel allocations worth P200 million each.

The Senate moved to increase several items in the budget. These included the P5.5 billion budget increase for calamity fund, Drilon noted.

This also included P600 million increase in quick response funds for the Dept. of Health and Dept. of Transportation and Communication to better capacitate the government in responding to future calamities, he added.

A total of P100 billion was also carved for rehabilitation and reconstruction program on areas heavily hit by the recent disastrous events particularly typhoons and the the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Visayas, he explained.

“In total, we have allocated P100 billion for rehabilitation program to be undertaken by the line agencies next year, and of which, P20 billion is funded, and P80 billion is unprogrammed, which funds shall serve as standby authority and ready authorization for spending once we receive the foreign donations and grants for victims of typhoon Yolanda,” Drilon said.

The Senate version realigned P2.5 billion from the P5 billion lump-sum appropriation for scholarships to the budget of 112 state colleges and universities; University of the Philippines’ budget was increased by P438 million.

Drilon also proposed to abolish the provisions in the budget proposal which are contrary to the ruling of the Supreme Court on the unconstitutionality of the pork barrel. (PNA)