The House of Representatives will be able to approve the proposed P2.268 trillion budget on time even if the lawmakers would still have to get the nod of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on their proposed projects that will be included in the proposed 2014 budget.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. of Quezon City made the pronouncement after he disclosed that at least 260 lawmakers have already submitted their proposed infrastructure projects before the DPWH—projects that will be funded by the P9.654 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation under the 2014 proposed budget which was transferred by Congress to the discretion of the DPWH.
The lawmakers’ proposed infrastructure projects should be: site specific, useful (such as classrooms, multi-purpose buildings, Level 2 or Level 3 water supply), worth at least P2 million per projects or P24.5 million for each lawmaker in aggregate, not funded on an installment basis and be implemented within the budget year.
“I’m very confident that we can still approve the budget on time. More than 260 lawmakers already submitted their proposals, and most of pitches were school and multipurpose buildings. We will see to it that the Congressman conform [his/her proposal] to the requirements,” Belmonte said in a chance interview.
The House dropped the PDAF allocation under the 2014 budget amid the lingering public outrage over the expose on the P10 billion PDAF scam that allegedly benefited the bogus nongovernment organizations ran by Janet Lim-Napoles.
As a result, the House approved the PDAF-less proposed P2.268 trillion budget for 2014 on Second Reading last September 28.
“We will not approve the budget on third reading unless the itemized infrastructure projects [proposed by lawmakers]who followed the criteria are included in the budget,” Belmonte added.
The House has 292 members, and Belmonte earlier revealed that the DPWH has thumbed down 12 proposed projects from House members because the funding is too little—an impractical scheme because the bidding for a P50,000 worth of project needs just as much manpower as the bidding for a P50 million project.
The Speaker then underscored that it is very important to pass the budget on time because a budget which is passed into law on time will immediately take effect on January 1 the following year.
“It makes a heck of a big difference if you pass it on time. If you pass it on time, the budget takes effect on January 1 . If you don’t and for example pass it on April 1, the old  budget will be automatically used for January 1 to March 30,” Belmonte argued.
“With a late budget, you would have to spend the budget—which is good for 12 months—in eight months time. What kind of fund management of is that?,” Belmonte added in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI