House begins 2020 budget hearings

Robie de Guzman   •   August 22, 2019   •   208

The House Committee on Appropriations begins its deliberations on the proposed 4.1-Trillion national budget for 2020. | 📷 House of Representatives Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Thursday started its hearing on the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for the year 2020.

The House Committee on Appropriations began its budget deliberations with a briefing of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the inter-agency that sets the overall economic targets, expenditure levels and budget of the government.

Davao City Third District Rep. Isidro Ungab, who chairs the committee, earlier said the DBCC briefing is one of the most important aspects in the lawmakers’ work and duty to scrutinize the 2020 national budget bill.

“The macroeconomic assumptions to be outlined will help guide our policy makers and business sector to craft plans based on the government projections on economic growth, price stability, among others, including government expenditures, as well as general directions for the coming fiscal year,” Ungab said in a statement.

The Thursday’s DBCC briefing was participated by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DOF), and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

On Friday, Ungab said officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) will present their budget proposals to the committee.

Prior to the start of the House budget deliberations, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano called for a major caucus with the members of the 18th Congress on Wednesday.

Around 160 lawmakers attended the meeting, which according to Cayetano, discussed the various priority measures laid out by President Rodrigo Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address and the setting of tasks and responsibilities.

“We discussed the various priority measures enumerated by President Rodrigo Duterte during his State of the Nation Address last month which will be included in the informal coordination meeting with the Senate and the Executive offices next week” Cayetano said in a Facebook post.

“After receiving the 2020 national budget yesterday, we are setting timelines and defining tasks and responsibilities to ensure that we get things done,” he added.

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez earlier said they are targeting to hold marathon sessions, both in the plenary and committee level, to ensure the passage of the budget bill before the end of the year.

House leaders earlier said they are eyeing to approve the budget on October 4.

Romualdez said that by September 12, the lower chamber would hold sessions on Thursdays and Fridays, past the regular schedule of Monday to Wednesday.

He added that the plenary session has also been moved from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to give way to four budget hearings scheduled by the appropriations committee. (RRD with details from correspondent Joan Nano)

House confident of passing 2020 budget bill on Oct. 4

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives remains confident it will be able to pass the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for the year 2020 on the targeted date of October 4.

The House plenary has been able to follow its schedule and completed deliberations on the proposed budgets of 39 government departments last week.

Among the government agencies with approved budgets were the Department of Finance, National Economic Development Authority and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

It also approved the 2020 budgets of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Optical Media Board, Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Credit Information Corporation.

Also approved were the proposed budgets for next year of the Judiciary, Ombudsman, Philippine Center for Economic Development, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Civil Service Commission, Department of Trade and Industry, Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan; Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Bases Conversion and Development Authority and the Department of Justice.

The House also terminated deliberations on the appropriations for the Games and Amusements Board, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Racing Commission, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology, Philippine Competition Commission, Commission on Higher Education, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Labor and Employment, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Department of Foreign Affairs.

The number of agencies with approved budget proposals represents 54 percent of the total 72 government offices under House Bill 4228 or the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) scheduled for plenary debates that is seen to be concluded on Friday, Sept. 20. 

“At the rate we’re going, the House is on track to finish the 2020 budget before the recess on Oct. 4,” Senior Deputy Majority Floor Leader and Cavite Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a statement.

House leaders have earlier said they stick to the original target date to pass the proposed national budget before Congress goes on recess on the first week of October.

This is to avoid the scenario of another reenacted budget like what happened last year.

Apart from budget deliberations, the lower chamber also touted the passing of four priority measures at a record time, including the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA).

Remulla credited this to regular meetings of House members to thresh out concerns and ensure that floor discussions were mainly about the policy and expenditure programs of concerned agencies.

DepEd admits early pregnancy, lack of teachers remain a serious concern

Maris Federez   •   September 13, 2019

File photo of a public school teacher

The budget allocated for the Department of Education (DepEd) for the year 2020 is around P551-billion.

This is higher than the current department budget.

At Thursday’s Senate hearing on the proposed DepEd budget, as senators questioned the country’s quality of education, Secretary Leonor Briones admitted that the inadequate number of teachers remains a problem.

“Definitely size matters. The size of Finland, the size of Singapore, the size of the Philippines. 27 million learners, 900 thousand teachers,” Briones claimed.

The DepEd chief added that the department also considers early pregnancy as another serious problem.

“Ang instruction kasi ng President is: starting age 9, umpisahan na ang pagturo ng reproductive health [The president’s instruction was: starting age 9, we should start teaching reproductive health]. We’re taking it seriously and we are working closely with the Department of Health,” Briones said.

The Commission on Population report showed that the rate of teenage pregnancy in the country remains high, with close to 196,000 Filipinos age 15 to 19 getting pregnant every year.  (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

P4.1-T 2020 budget gets nod in House committee level

Maris Federez   •   September 9, 2019

The House Committee on Appropriations has approved the P4.1-trillion proposed national budget for 2020.

This, following the series of budget briefings that were conducted for all the departments and their line agencies.

Prior to its approval, the house panel conducted an executive session, which Committee on Appropriations Chair Isidro Ungab said has become a tradition in the lower house of Congress.

Ungab reported that the approval of the bill had been a breeze.

“There were no objections, only manifestations, madali lang na-approve namin,” Ungab said.

This marked the beginning of the plenary debate Ungab will defend the committee-level approved budget.

The plenary debate will pave the way for other congressmen to contest or question the appropriated fund in some government agencies.

With this, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has appealed for the cooperation of his fellow lawmakers for the immediate passage of the proposed budget.

Meanwhile, Ungab has earlier admitted that there had been attempts from other congressmen to insert around P70-B to P90-B in the budget for the public works projects in their respective districts.

“I have to be prank and honest. Mahirap talaga kasi malaki yung amount. Mahirap ma-entertain yung kanilang request,” Ungab said.

He assured, however, that there was no pork barrel inserted in the national budget.

The plenary debate is expected to run for two weeks, with the approval of the budget to take place before the first session break on October 4. (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf

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