House approves P3.767-T 2018 budget

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The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018.

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Voting 223-9 on Tuesday, the House approved House Bill 6215 or the 2018 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
Davao City Congressman Karlo Nograles, who leads the House Committee on Appropriations, said in a statement “most of the adjustments made on the GAB was a result of a painstaking scrutiny on the spending pattern and the absorptive capacity of each government agency.”

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign the proposed budget into law on November 22 at the latest, after the Senate approves it and the two chambers come up with a reconciled version, the lawmaker told dzBB radio on Sunday.

The GAB includes a P40-billion allocation for the Free Higher Education Law.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier signed the Free Higher Education Bill into law (Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act).

Students from 114 state universities and colleges (SUCs), 16 local universities and colleges accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), and 122 technical-vocational institutions under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) will benefit from the law, according to Nograles in an earlier statement.

According to Nograles’ statement Tuesday, the Department of Education (DepEd) was among the agencies that suffered the biggest cuts. At least P30 billion was cut from its school building program because of “lack of buildable spaces and problems in school sites, among others,” Nograles said.

“We just basically transferred part of the fund from primary education to higher education so it’s still all about improving our country’s educational system. Anyway, we will still be leaving DepEd with P92.96 billion for construction of new classrooms and school buildings and repairs for old ones. This is enough for them to fulfill their mandate, considering that DepEd is faced with challenges like lack of buildable spaces and problems in school sites on where to construct additional school buildings,” he noted.

He also said the education sector still had the biggest allocation, with P583.1 billion for DepEd, P61.6 billion for SUCs, P49.9 billion for the CHEd and P6.9 billion for Tesda.

Following the education sector are the: Department of Public Works and Highways with P639.8 billion, Department of the Interior and Local Government (P172.3 billion), Department of Health (P164.5 billion), Department of National Defense (P145 billion), Department of Social Welfare Development (P137.1 billion), Department of Transportation (P67.9 billion), Department of Agriculture (P54.2 billion); the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (P33.5 billion) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (P27.9 billion).

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