House OKs more transparent budget process on 2nd reading

July 13, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 382 views

THE House of Representatives has passed on second reading a bill that institutionalizes people’s participation in the deliberations of the annual budget in Congress.

Before the sine die adjournment, the House approved on second reading House Bill 7407 or An Act Institutionalizing The Participation of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the Preparation and Authorization Process of the Annual National Budget, Providing Effective Mechanisms Therefor, and for Other Purposes.

San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida “Rida” P. Robes, author of the bill, welcomed the approval of her bill saying it is one step closer to its eventual passing by the Lower on third and final reading. She said the bill will be an important component in the budget process because it will make the process more transparent and participatory through the involvement of grassroot organizations in all aspects of the budget cycle.

“One of the critical aspects of the budget process that we are doing in Congress is to ensure its transparency and accountability. Providing for a mechanism to ensure that people’s organizations participate in the process and give them a voice on how public funds will be spent is a giant step towards ensuring that the budget we pass in Congress is not only transparent, accountable but also inclusive and responsive to the needs of the people,” Robes said.

It was the House committee on people’s participation chaired by Robes which deliberated and approved the bill before its referral to the plenary.

Under the bill, which is co-authored by Reps. Rosanna Vergara (Nueva Ecija), Alfred Vargas (Quezon City), Yasser Alonto Balindong (Lanao Del Sur), Solomon Chungalao (Igugao), Macnell Lusotan (Marino Partylist), Gabriel Bordado (Camarines Sur) and Manuel Cabochan (Magdalo Partylist), accredited civil society organizations will be given a right to participate in the budget preparation of government agencies, including constitutional bodies and government-owned and controlled corporations, similar to the rights accorded to NGOs in local development councils.

Under the measure, they shall also be entitled to notices of hearings and receive budget documents as well submit their own alternative budget proposals or position papers.

Robes said they shall also have the right to observe the budget deliberations including the bicameral conference committee meetings.

According to Robes, they shall also be allowed to participate as resource persons during budget deliberations in Congress.

In order to participate, people’s organizations need to be accredited by the respective offices which they intend to take part. Any government officer who restrains any CSO from participating in the process will be penalized with a suspension ranging from one month to six months or a fine of P30,000 to P100,000 or both.