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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Proposed P3.35-Trillion 2017 Budget Gets Bicameral Approval

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Bicam OKs proposed P3.35-trillion 2017 budget of the Philippines for the year.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have reached an agreement on a common version of the proposed P3.35-trillion 2017 budget of the Philippines.

This comes with at least two session days left before Congress goes on Christmas break this year 2016.

This agreement will be presented for ratification either Tuesday or Wednesday.

(File photo)

According to Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, the House agreed to the Senate proposal to include in the budget of State Universities and Colleges, through the Commission on Higher Education, the P8.3 billion slashed from the budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“We will agree to the Senate version on the ARMM budget,” Farinas said.

The P8.3 billion from the P3.35 trillion was part of the P40.6-billion funding proposed by President Rodrigo Duterte for ARMM. This is intended to be used for various infrastructure projects to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

But, Senator Panfilo Lacson had expressed that the appropriation was similar to the pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund, which gives lawmakers the privilege of identifying their projects for funding.

According to Lacson, allowing the DPWH implement the projects would violate the Organic Act of the ARMM.

On Monday, the members of the bicameral conference committee met to resolve the impasse.

House appropriations chairperson, Davao Representative Karlo Nograles, said the the “highest infrastructure spending” from the 2017 budget is amounting P860 billion, and almost 40 percent of it is going to Mindanao.

For education sector, according to Nograles, the new budget is alloted for the construction of 38,000 new classrooms; hiring of 54,000 new teachers; and the enrolment of additional 300,000 scholars of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

On the other hand, a total of P53 billion was appropriated for PhilHealth to cover more indigent patients and P4 billion for the medical assistance program.

Nograles added that the 207 budget will continue to allocate funds for four million beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

More farm to market roads will be built and irrigation will be free to farmers, to boost the agriculture sector.

According to Nograles, the budget will also include funding for the salary increase of police and military personnel, and government employees.

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