House approves empowerment budget in record time

THE House of Representatives approved on second reading, in just ten plenary session days, the President’s proposed 2013 P2.006-trillion “budget of empowerment” contained in House Bill 6455.

The Speaker noted that 826 measures had been passed on 3rd reading including national bills of major significance such as — AFP Modernization, Kasambahay Bill, Modernization of PAGASA, National Land Use and Management, among others.

“We strongly believe this spending bill will ensure sustained service to our people and maximize the developmental use of the people’s money by improving accountability in the budget process,” Speaker Belmonte declared.

The Speaker thanked and lauded the hard work and commitment of the members of the Committee on Appropriations chaired by Cavite Rep. and incoming DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, the deputy Speakers who took turns in presiding over the marathon budget debates, the Majority leader and Assistant Majority leaders and those who defended the various agency budgets in plenary until final approval.

The Speaker noted Abaya’s nine years of admirable work and dedication in various capacities in the House of Representatives, saying “There is no doubt that Jun will do very well in the DOTC”.

Belmonte then took pride in also congratulating his colleagues on the recently released results of the Social Weather Station survey conducted from August 24 to 27 where the House net satisfaction rating rose to a record high of + 42 – the highest achieved by the chamber in 25 years since the 8th Congress began. Belmonte himself received his
personal best of +20 during this period

Likewise, Belmonte cited the critical cooperation of the members of the minority led by Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez during the entire committee and plenary scrutiny of the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2013, which is P190-billion or 10.5% higher than the P1.816-trillion 2012 GAA.

Belmonte ended sessions asking his colleagues to enjoy the short break as there are bigger things ahead and much to tackle when they all return.

As mandated by the Constitution, the Department of Education and Culture tops the list with an approved budget of P292.7-billion, followed by the DPWH with P165.5-billion, the Department of National Defense, which was allotted P121.6-billion, and the DILG with P121.1-billion.

The Department of Agriculture ranks 5th with a P74.1-billion budget; 6th is the DOH with P56.8-billion; 7th is DSWD at P56.2-billion; 8th is DOTC with P37.1-billion; 9th is DOF at P33.2-billion and the DENR with P23.7-billion.

The figures of the top ten agencies mentioned include the respective departments’ allocations under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), Pension and Gratuity Fund (PGF), Budgetary Support to Government Corporations (BSGC), Priority Social and Economic Projects Fund (PSEPF) and other Special Purpose Funds.

The Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department noted that to support the President’s budget proposal is an estimated total revenue collection of P1.780-trillion or14.9% of GDP. Total disbursement is targeted at P2.021-trillion (16% of GDP), and the resulting budget deficit is expected to go down to P241-billion (2.0% of GDP) in 2013
from the 2012 target of P279.1-billion (2.6% of GDP).

Talking about appropriations by region — compared to the current regional budgetary allocation of P770.5-billion, next year’s regional spending level will be at P990.4-billion or a 28.5 percent increase equivalent to 49.4 percent of the total 2013 proposed budget.

The regional budgetary allocations under the proposed 2013 General Appropriations Act are the following: Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) – P31.7-B; Region-1 –P49.7-B; Region 2 – P44.8-B; Region 3 – P88.9-B; Region 4 – P130.2-B; NCR – P129.4-B; Region 5 – P63.2-B; Region 6 – P74.4-B; Region 7 – P63.0-B; Region 8 – P56.5-B; Region 9 – P42.0-B; Region 10 – P48.1-B; Region 11 – P46.3-B; Region 12 – P43.5-B; and ARMM – P43.8-B.

It was revealed during the budget debate that the LGU shares in the proposed GAA also rose by 9.7 percent to P318.1-billion due to improved revenue collections in 2010, the base year for computing the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of LGUs for 2013.

By sector, the biggest slice of the budget is again focused on social services with 34.8 percent of the total national budget (P698.8-B) in order to pursue the government’s determined campaign on poverty alleviation. Economic services get the second highest sectoral funding with P511.1-B or 25.6 percent of the GAA in 2013.

Next to Economic services is the General Public Services sector with P346.1-B (17.3%), then Debt burden at the level of P333.9-B (16.6), and the Defense sector with P89.7-B of 4.5% of the national budget.

By expense class, to help boost the momentum currently driving the transport, tourism and agriculture industries, capital outlays (CO) will increase by 15.7 percent to P380-B from the current year’s level of P328.3-B. Of this amount, as per DBM report to Congress, Infrastructure and other capital outlays will increase by 17.5 percent
to P296.7-billion from the current year’s P252.4-billion.

Even as the Executive branch vowed to continue implementing reforms to improve collections and to deter tax evaders and smugglers, the President sought Congress’ timely action for the passage of important reform measures.

These measures include the rationalization of fiscal incentives, reforms in the tobacco and alcohol excise tax system, and the increase in mining excise taxes.


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