2013 budget bill open to amendments, says solonBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines—The proposed P2.006 trillion national budget for 2013 will no longer be increased after its approval on second reading by the House of Representatives but it is now open to realignment and other amendments before its passage on final reading, a lawmaker said Friday.
“The real changes come in between second and third reading,” said newly confirmed Transportation and Communications chief Joseph Emilio Abaya, who chairs the House committee on appropriations.
A five-member committee has been formed to receive proposed amendments to House Bill 6455 or the General Appropriations Act of 2013, composed of Abaya, vice chairpersons Negros Oriental Representative Jocelyn Limkaichong and Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr.; Iloilo Representative Janette Garin, and House minority leader Danilo Suarez.
House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II said that agencies have up to September 25 to submit their individual amendments to the GAA.
Abaya said that although the legislation was open to amendments, with the exception of the automatic appropriations and debt servicing, the challenge in revising the bill was finding fund sources.
“You have to identify the source. Where do you get it? Many [lawmakers] would simply write, add, but not actually identifying where to get, and which one to trim down,” he said.
Abaya said that realignment was also possible “so long as there’s merit.”
With errata being submitted to the committee, the Cavite lawmaker said that the special purpose fund recently highlighted allegedly for the possible use in the upcoming elections, will slowly be transferred as part of the allocation for various agencies.
Asked whether the said funding would be completely emptied once they go on third reading, Abaya said “that is our intention but we have to check whether the breakdown is throughout the whole amount.”
He added that he will still be the one to shepherd HB 6455 through its approval on third reading on October 15, after which he would most likely assume his new post at the Department of Transportation and Communications.