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House Begins Hearings On Proposed P5.7 Trillion National Budget for 2024

MANILA, Philippines — House of Representatives has begun on Thursday morning the plenary hearings on the P5.6 trillion proposed budget for next year.

The deliberations are being led by House committee on appropriations.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the chamber will closely examine each agency’s proposed funding for 2024 so that each centavo will be “judiciously spent.”

“As we hold the power of the purse, it is our duty to completely scrutinize the proposed 2024 national budget and deliver results that would sustain the gains of the past year and support the government’s priorities and policy directions as identified under the eight-point socioeconomic agenda and the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028,” Romualdez said.

“We need to closely examine the budget proposals of every department and agency, and analyze every program, activity, and project to ensure that the resources are allocated and optimized on the right priorities that address the economic and social challenges of our beloved country,” he added.

The Speaker also said House intends to approve the proposal on third reading before Congress goes on break by October.

This schedule will give Senate sufficient time to scrutinize the measure, he noted.

Romualdez also said the early passage of the budget bill is expected because of the early submission of the proposal by the executive department.

It was transmitted to Congress less than 10 days after the second State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the executive is required to submit the proposed budget, formally titled as National Expenditure Program (NEP), within 30 days after Sona.

“Having received the budget proposal twenty days earlier than the constitutional deadline, I am confident that the House of Representatives will be able to deliberate and pass the national budget on time and transmit the same to the Senate,” Romualdez said.

“I can assure everyone that the house of representatives will not take a break until and unless we have passed this very important legislation,” he stressed.

“Sisiguruhin natin na maipapasa natin ang 2024 general appropriations bill sa loob ng limang linggo lamang. Apat na linggo sa mga komite, at isang linggo sa plenaryo,” he pointed out.

(We will ensure that the 2024 general appropriations bill will be approved in five weeks — four weeks within the committees and one week in the plenary.)

Aside from Romualdez, following were key House leaders present during the start of the budget deliberations:

Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr.
Majority Leader and Zamboanga 2nd District Representative Manuel Jose Dalipe
Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Ferdinand Alexander Marcos

The hearing was presided over by appropriations senior vice chairperson and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo.

In her own opening remarks, Quimbo — an economist by profession — said House can craft a budget that will be responsive to the needs of the people.

“The global landscape presents both opportunities and challenges that influence our economic assumptions,” the lawmaker said.

“Trade dynamics, for instance, are transforming due to shifts in global supply chains and emerging technologies,” she observed.

“As we set our revenue targets, we must consider the impact of these changes on our exports, imports, and overall balance of payments,” she said.

“By carefully evaluating GDP growth, trade dynamics, inflation, and monetary policy, we can craft a budget that not only responds to the current economic realities but also position our nation and our people for a prosperous and resilient future,” she added.

Last August 2, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman formally submitted the 2024 NEP to the House.

Initial information from Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed the proposed budget is 9.5 percent higher than the P5.267 trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) or the enacted budget for 2023.

As mandated by the 1987 Constitution, DBM said the education sector gets the highest allocation with P924.7 billion.

This amount is higher than the P895.2 billion approved in the 2023 GAA.

Public works or infrastructure programs get a decrease, at P822.2 billion from P894.2 billion in 2023.

Allocation to health also decreased from P314.7 billion in the 2023 GAA to P306.1 billion in the 2024 NEP.

However, proposed appropriation for defense increased in the 2024 NEP to P232.2 billion from P203.4 billion in the 2023 GAA.

Budget shares for transportation (P106 billion to P214.3 billion) and social welfare (P199.5 billion to P209.9 billion), likewise, increased under next year’s proposed NEP.

Source : Inquirer.net