House leaders want a 2024 national budget bill approved within 2 months
MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and House committee on appropriations chairperson Elizaldy Co (Ako Bicol party-list) see the approval of the proposed 2024 national budget before October this year.
The two leaders of Congress gave this timetable following the transmittal of the National Expenditures Program (NEP) to the House of Representatives.
In his remarks on Wednesday, Romualdez lauded the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for handing on to the chamber the P5.768 trillion worth of NEP.
The document arrived in Batasang Pambansa just nine days after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. delivered his second State of the Nation Address (Sona).
The executive branch has 30 days after the address to send the NEP to Congress.
With the early submission, Romualdez said House has more time to deliberate on the proposed budget.
He said lawmakers will return the good gesture of DBM by passing the measure on time.
“Maraming salamat po sa pagbibigay sa amin ng sapat na panahon para pag-aralan ang proposal ng Executive Department,” Romualdez said.
(Thank you for giving us ample time to study the proposal of the Executive Department.)
“Dahil sa maagang pagtanggap ng 2024 NEP, asahan ninyo na magiging mabilis din ang aksyon ng Kongreso para maipasa ang budget sa lalong madaling panahon,” he told the executive branch.
(Because of this early transmittal of 2024 NEP, you can expect that Congress will also act quickly to pass the budget as soon as possible.)
Co, meanwhile, said his panel will look at the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF) “with a keen eye.”
The committee head said he will make sure NEP is in line with the Marcos administration’s goals.
“I have clear marching orders from the Speaker: Make sure that the budget fully supports the Marcos administration’s 8-point socioeconomic agenda through sound fiscal management,” Co said.
“This necessitates the committee checking if the projected revenues and borrowings reflected in the BESF are enough to fund the expenses, and, just as importantly, if they are funding the right projects and initiatives,” he explained.
After receiving the proposal, Committee on Appropriations will conduct a series of hearings on the budget.
During this period, legislators can recommend additions, deductions, and other changes to the planned allocations and expenses.
At the press briefing, Marikina 2nd district representative Stella Quimbo said House members will begin the hearings on August 10.
Quimbo is the committee’s senior vice chairperson.
The panel want to bring the debates to the plenary by September 18.
Romualdez, Co, and Quimbo agree the chamber’s version of the bill should be approved in two months’ time.
“The committee will put its nose to the grindstone so that the House will be able to approve the budget on third reading before Congress adjourns on September 30,” Co said.
Initial information from 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.
Following the mandate of the Constitution, education gets the biggest share.
For next year, the proposed appropriation for the Department of Education is P924.7 billion.
The amount is higher than the P895.2 billion approved in the 2023 GAA.
Public works get P822.2 billion, lower than the P894.2 billion in 2023.
Allocation to health is also down, from P314.7 billion for this year to P306.1 for next year.