MANILA, (PNA) — The House of Representatives will start tomorrow (Monday) its plenary debates on House Bill 2630 or the 2014 General Appropriations Bill, which proposes a P2.268 trillion national budget for next year.
The sessions will begin 10 a.m., Monday to Friday, as the House aims to start the period of amendment of the budget bill by September 27.
Rep. Isidro Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said his panel has not recommended any cuts in the budgetary allocation for the different government departments and agencies.
He maintained that they have agreed to remove the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as a lump sum amount in the GAA.
“So far, we did not recommend any budgetary cuts. We’ve proposed to scrap the PDAF as lump sum allocation. It will go to basic services under the executive department, such as health, education, social services, employment generation, technical skills training and local infrastructures,” said Ungab.
Earlier, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said the fund would instead be distributed to the different government agencies that implements PDAF-funded projects. He said they will abolish the P25.2 billion (PDAF), but will integrate it and will be under the rules of the implementing agencies.
The Speaker said the PDAF would ease any discretion on the part of solons in identifying the intended project, a move that can regain public trust in lawmakers.
Ungab said House members will have to follow the policies and procedures of the implementing agencies to ensure transparency and accountability.
Meanwhile, Ungab said the schedule on the budget hearings for the different departments and agencies, which started last August 7, was very hectic but the committee on appropriations managed to complete its budgetary scrutiny on time. “The committee tried its best to finish the budget hearings on time.”
As to the pre-plenary budget conferences, he said these provide a necessary venue for clarification, parochial questions and matters, which need not be taken up in the plenary.
Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao expressed confidence that the House will again pass the budget bill on time like it did in previous years.
“We did that in 2010, 2011 and 2012. I think we would do it again this year,” said Aggabao.
Plenary discussions of HB 2360 will open with a sponsorship speech of Ungab and a debate on general principles and provisions of the budget measure. Rep. Gabriel Luis Quisumbing (6th District, Cebu) will then present the proposed budgets of the following: Department of Finance (DOF) and its attached agencies and corporations; National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and its attached agencies and corporations; and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).