House to work ‘double time’ to pass 2023 budget before Christmas

August 26, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 250 views

THE chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations on Friday said Congress would work “double time” to ensure that President Marcos Jr.’s first full-year budget would be passed into law before the Christmas break.

At the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) briefing, Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Elizaldy S. Co, panel chairman, said he will ensure that “every peso” of the government budget will be spent wisely for the people.

“The ball is now in the hands of the Committee, whatever disposition we shall take. We must act and work together to scrutinize every aspect of this budget to ensure that it is consistent with the socio-economic agenda of the President,” Co said in his opening remarks.

“We shall guarantee that every peso authorized in this budget is directed to address food security and inflation, reduce poverty, and provide the necessary stimulus for economic transformation,” he stressed.

Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, senior vice chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations, said the budget deliberations for next year will be an economic recovery budget.

“While we have made significant strides towards recovery as evidenced by our positive GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates in the last five quarters and our near return to pre-pandemic GDP levels, risks continue to persist. The prices of basic commodities remain high. The country needs to manage the debt it incurred throughout the pandemic. Global events such as the Russo-Ukrainian war continue to bring uncertainty to the market, affecting our everyday lives,” Quimbo said.

“Thus, it is critical that we approve a well-targeted budget, based on the NEP submitted last Monday, that will be instrumental in paving our path forward. The administration has called the budget an agenda for prosperity: towards economic transformation, inclusivity, and sustainability. The role of Congress is to efficiently and equitably allocate each centavo to programs that fulfill the worthy objectives of the Medium Term Fiscal Framework, especially job creation and poverty reduction,” Quimbo said.

“Under the able leadership of Speaker Martin Romualdez, Chairman Zaldy Co, the Appropriations Committee will ensure that this mandate of Congress shall be fulfilled expediently without sacrificing thorough study and sufficient scrutiny of the budget. Even before today, under the direction of Chairman Co, the Committee on Appropriation has opened communication channels between various agencies and groups within Congress. Kaya kahit ngayon ang unang araw ng formal deliberation ng ating budget, ang katotohanan ay ilang linggo nang nagpre-present ang mga ahensya sa iba’t-ibang grupo at partido ng mga kapwa congressman. This is why I am confident that despite the daunting task ahead, we shall endure and be able to approve the GAB by October 1, thereby avoiding delays and a reenacted budget,” Quimbo added.

“Yet, while we acknowledge the hard work and expertise put in for the NEP, we also ask the DBCC to listen and work with us members of Congress so that we may be able to craft a national budget that will uplift the lives of the Filipinos. On my part, it is an honor and privilege to sponsor the economic framework underlying the proposed 2023 national budget. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,” she added.

Co also assured that his committee will work hard, without sacrificing its independence, to ensure that President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. can sign the 2023 national budget before December 25.

“When the Speaker received it [the proposed budget] last Monday, the instruction was clear, for the Committee to act with dispatch without sacrificing its independence to pass this budget before the Christmas break,” he said.

For this reason, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez urged his fellow House members to actively participate in crafting a national budget that addresses the 8-point economic agenda stipulated in the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) of the Marcos administration.

“The passage of the 2023 National Budget will be open and transparent… We will make sure that each bit of spending will contribute to our goal of reigniting the fires of our economic forges and at least propel the country to reach economic growth at pre-pandemic levels,” Romualdez said.

In addition, House Committee on Appropriations senior vice chair Quimbo said it is critical that Congress will approve a well-targeted budget that also manages the additional debt government incurred amid the pandemic.

“Under the able leadership of Chairman Zaldy Co, the Appropriations Committee will ensure that this mandate of Congress shall be fulfilled expediently without sacrificing thorough study and sufficient scrutiny of the budget,” Quimbo said.

On Friday, August 26, the House Committee on Appropriations convened and initiated the annual budget review of the proposed budget of the executive department for the fiscal year 2023.

President Marcos Jr.’s economic managers, or the DBCC, presented before the Committee the macroeconomic targets, revenue projections, borrowing level, aggregate budget level, and expenditure priorities used in the formulation of the FY 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

The DBCC is composed of the heads of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Department of Finance (DOF), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Last August 22, the DBM submitted the FY 2023 NEP, which will be the basis of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) that the House will pass with the concurrence of the Senate.

“Let’s work hard and work together to accomplish this task assigned to us by the Filipino people to ascertain their future prosperity and advancement,” Co said.