Malacañang on Thursday urged the Senate to hasten the passage of the proposed P3.767 trillion budget for 2018 which is deemed critical in supporting the Duterte administration’s ambitious plans for the country.
“We hope that the Senate can swiftly approve its own version of the proposed bill on the national budget so that our lawmakers can start working to harmonize their versions of the bill when a bicameral conference committee is convened,” Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a news conference.
Duterte submitted the proposed 2018 budget to Congress when he delivered his second State of the Nation Address on July 24.
Next year’s proposed budget is 12.4 percent higher than the P3.35 trillion budget allocated for this year.
Abella said with the 2018 budget, the government hopes to lay down the foundation for a Matatag, Maginhawa at Panatag na Buhay (stable, prosperous and peaceful life), as anchored on the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.
issued the statement a day after the Senate received House Bill 6215 or the 2018 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) from the House of Representatives.
Sen. Loren Legarda, head of the Senate Committee on Finance, said she is ready to sponsor the budget measure next week if the panel’s subcommittees submit their respective reports this week.
The chamber received on Wednesday the House of Representatives’s version of the budget bill.
“We will conduct marathon sessions so we can finish the budget interpellations of all agencies before session adjourns on October 12 for a one-month break,” Legarda said.
Senators Panfilo Lacson, Juan Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero and Joseph Victor Ejercito head the finance panel’s subcommittees.
Legarda said the Senate will be able to approve the budget bill on second and third reading when session resumes in November. This will be followed by the convening of the bicameral conference committee so that the Senate and the House can reconcile the differences in their respective bills.
“We aim to submit the 2018 budget bill to the President on the second week of December and, hopefully, enacted way ahead before Christmas,” Legarda said.
“This way, agencies would have time to plan the execution of approved projects and programs before the holidays. Hopefully, this would help in the early disbursement of funds and a more efficient obligation,” she added.
with BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO