• Bicam panel okays P2.2T 2014 budget

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    The Bicameral conference committee on Tuesday approved the P2.264-trillion budget for 2014, P3.2 billion less than the P2.268 trillion proposed by Malacañang.

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    The bicameral meeting at the Senate was merely a formality since the panel had already settled all disagreeing provisions during the pre-bicam meet held in previous weeks.

    Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, insisted that all changes and amendments done during the pre-bicam meetings be made available to the public.

    Several groups have asked the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives to open bicameral meetings to the public to discourage legislators from making budget insertions.

    “All amendments introduced in the proposed budget have been made public, unlike in the previous years, even the explanation are also made public. But still, with or without those demands, we would’ve made it public anyway,” Escudero said.

    He explained that the approved budget was lower than the Palace’s proposal because of the deletion of the priority development assistance fund of 15 senators and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

    There were 28 amendments accepted in the final version of the national expenditure that involves additional allotment to various government agencies including the Senate.

    Congress also introduced special provisions that would promote transparency on government expenditure like the requirement for each government agency to report to Congress and the Commission on Audit the use of their fund to include savings and lump sums.

    They also removed the legislators’ participation in the post-enactment stage of the budget execution as well as the lawmakers “discretion” over the implementation of projects.

    “The 2014 GAA will contain stricter, clearer provisions on reporting transparency and accountability. It’s a question of implementing, the mandate of the Congress and other part of the executive and other implementing agencies,” Escudero told reporters.

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