August 21, 2022

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House kicks off budget season with arrival of spending plan from gov’t

THE House of Representatives will receive the P5.26 trillion proposed 2023 national budget today, Aug. 22, giving it just under six weeks to pass an appropriations bill before recess, a senior legislator said.

“The budget process starts here and we want to give all House members time to scrutinize the proposed budget. I can confidently say that we can make the Sept. 30 deadline,” House Majority Leader Manuel Jose M. Dalipe said at a briefing last week.

The proposed budget for next year is nearly 5% larger than the P5.02 trillion 2022 edition.

The Constitution requires President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to “submit to the Congress within 30 days from the opening of every regular session, as the basis of the general appropriations bill (GAB), a budget of expenditures and sources of financing, including receipts from existing and proposed revenue measures.”

Marikina Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo said in a House statement that the Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Ako-Bicol Party-list Rep. Elizaldy S. Co, is committed to the swift approval of the propose economic recovery budget.

“Congress shall work tirelessly to approve a budget that is responsive to the needs of the people and is able to bring inclusive and sustainable growth,” Ms. Quimbo, also senior vice-chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said.

Deputy Minority Leader Bernadette Herrera said that the proposed national budget will be subjected to thorough review by the minority.

“We at the minority, assure our countrymen that the budget will pass through the eye of a needle,” Ms. Herrera, of the Bagong Henerasyon party-list, said in a statement.

She also said that Minority Leader and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Projects Rep. Marcelino C. Libanan will assign each minority member a role during the budget hearings.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a Viber message that timely passage of the budget depends on the presence of “controversial budget items that would require more time (for adjustments) to be made by various government agencies.”

“It would also be a function of any widespread support of lawmakers at both the House and the Senate as to how it would be expedited based on urgency to approve in a more timely manner especially if certified by the President, at least to avoid delays and prevent a re-enactment of the previous year’s budget,” Mr. Ricafort said.

“The economy’s faster growth will depend on the timely approval of the national budget. (As we have seen) in recent years (delays) in the approval of the national budget… led to slower GDP growth by about minus 1 percentage point,” he said, adding that the previous administration eventually learned the downside of a delayed budget and was able to avert repeat episodes.

Mr. Ricafort said financial resources are limited due to the large debt incurred during the pandemic. — Matthew Carl L. Montecillo