2014 budget expected to pass 3rd and final reading October 21

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, (PNA) — The leadership of the House of Representatives on Monday said they will pass the 2014 P2.268 Trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) on third and final reading on October 21.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, stressed this as the House independent bloc led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez reiterated their call on Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., to consider their proposed amendments to the budget measure.

Ungab said that the House of Representatives will likely adopt the version of House Bill. 2630 or the 2014 GAA that was approved on second reading before they went on recess last month.

In the said version, Ungab said it removed the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from the discretion of legislators and have them re-channeled to certain government agencies, but retain the lump sum allocations in the executive agencies.

“October 21 is the target date for the 3rd and final reading,” Ungab said.

The panel chairman assured a smooth sailing approval of the budget bill on third reading, hinting that there will be no additions or insertions of funds similar to the controversial “Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

“We already approved the budget on second reading. The period of debates has already been closed. The third reading is the final step in legislation in which individual votes will be taken and recorded,” Ungab said.

Romualdez said that his group’s proposed amendments to HB 2630 would ensure a more transparent use of public funds, such as subjecting the P450 billion Special Purpose Funds (SPFs) of President Aquino to line-item budgeting.

“We hope you will consider these suggestions and incorporate the same in the amended version of the national budget,” Romualdez said.

“We propose that, as much as practicable, all lump sum and/or special purpose funds (SPFs) be dissolved and subjected to line item budgeting and the allocated funds dispersed to the appropriate line agencies,” he added, citing as an example the P2.478 billion E-Government Fund.