Senate minority rejects P20M extra budget for oversight committees

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Members of the Senate minority will reject the P20-million additional budget for oversight committees being offered by the Senate leadership.

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In a statement signed by the six members of the minority bloc headed by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the group said that present Senate leadership fell short in showing the public that the chamber was putting taxpayers’ money into more efficient use by introducing reforms.

The minority senators were referring to the rationalization of the budgets of oversight committees which was adopted by members of the majority led by Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Under the new system which was approved at a caucus, a uniform P20 million annual budget allocation will be given each of the 24 senators on top of the regular budgets for the senators’ offices and regular committee budgets.

The new system will result in a P32.4 million savings which will be returned to the national treasury.

The minority bloc voted against it claiming that the supposed rationalization of oversight committee budgets is actually an “equalization” measure wherein it subtracts from those senators whose current oversight committee budgets are higher than P20 million and adds to those who have budget lower than P20 million.

“If we are to assume that the senators uniformly need P20 million annually to carry out his or her committees’ regardless of whether it is for the regular legislative or for oversight, then we must call  a spade a spade  and tell the people that we are actually increasing our operational budgets by P20 million annually,” the minority said in statement.

The minority meanwhile supports the Senate leadership’s move to urgently review, revise and repeal, if needed, laws and resolutions passed by Congress that will create oversight committees based on need, importance, function and actual performance.

There are 39 oversight committees created either by a law or a resolution, but many of them have long been idle.

A real rationalization, the minority bloc said, will result bigger savings than the P32.4 million that the equalization measure expects to generate.

The equalization system will also abolish staff positions, it said.

Just last week, around 100 oversight committee staffers were cut as a result of the rationalization scheme that took effect last August 1.

JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

 

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