Budget hearings expected in mid-August

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A lawmaker over the weekend expressed optimism that the House of Representatives’ appropriations committee can start deliberations on the proposed 2017 national budget in mid-August, ensuring its timely approval.

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Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao, chairman of the appropriations committee, said the House leadership had assured him that the organization of the committee would be prioritized.

“Hopefully by August 22, we can already start our hearings on the national budget. Hopefully by that time, we’ve been fully organized in the Committee on Appropriations,” he said in a statement issued on Sunday.

“So far, I am the only member of the committee,” Nograles added.

Earlier, the Department of Budget and Management said it would submit the P3.3-trillion proposed 2017 national budget to Congress on August 15.

The sum is 11.6 percent higher than the current year’s P3.002-trillion budget.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the budgets for 2017 until 2022 would support President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to improve the country’s infrastructure, invest in human resources, modernize agriculture and develop lagging regions.

Nograles said he had yet to meet Diokno.

Under Section 24, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, the appropriations law must originate from the House, but the Senate may propose or concur with its provisions.

Nograles said there would be no changes to the procedure of the budget hearings in the 17th Congress.

The lawmaker said Congress was ready to work overtime to ensure the budget’s approval on time. He urged his colleagues to ensure that there would be no delays.

“Nobody in the House wants a reenacted budget,” Nograles said.

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