• Senate to trim down oversight committees

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    THE Senate on Tuesday agreed to cut its expenditures by trimming down the number of Congressional oversight committees wherein it is expected to save P50 million annually.

    Senate President Franklin Drilon said they have reached a consensus to trim down the number of oversight committees in order to save funds at the end of the year.

    In defending their move, Drilon said scrapping of some of these ad hoc panels will save the Senate up to P500 million annually.

    Based on the proposed 2014 budget, the Senate has an allocation of P2.9 billion budget which is much lower than the P3.2 billion the chamber received this year.

    “We will rationalize the oversight committees so that we will be able to save funds by the end of the year. Roughly, we will save P50 million,” Drilon said.

    The oversight committees were created by Congress to check and monitor the implementation of specific laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Overseas Voting Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Law.

    Drilon, however, noted that the Senate has yet to decide which of its 35 oversight panels will be removed or retained.

    He also said that the rationalization of the oversight committees is just one of the reforms that are going to be implemented in the 16th Congress.

    For his part, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said the Senate might lessen the number of oversight panels to 20.

    The Senate reached the consensus on trimming down the ad hoc panels after controversies involving some senators and the use of government funds for the past months.

    Among these were the controversial P10 billion pork barrel scam involving some senators and the alleged irregular disbursement of maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) to some senators by then Senate President Juan Ponce.

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