By Jovee Marie de la Cruz, November 12 2018; Business Mirror


Image Credit to Business World

A senior vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations on Sunday said the panel’s small committee is still finalizing all the amendments to the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.

With this, Compostela Valley Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora said the House of Representatives cannot pass House Bill (HB) 8169, or the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) this week.

“Unfortunately, we’re still quite in the thick of the amendments. Due to the volume of the amendments requested and agreed upon during the debates over HB 8169 alone, combined with the different agencies’ concerns, we’re still going through items. We’re targeting finishing this week, and then the budget will be readied for printing,” Zamora said in an interview.

“By the third week of November, we can have the third and final reading approval [of the national budget],” she added.

She, however, assured that the next year’s budget  will be signed into law in December by President Duterte.

“The small committee has been working with the secretariat day in and out, but it’s really a consuming process. Rest assured that we will pass the national budget in time for next year,” said Zamora.

The delayed approval of the national budget stemmed from the supposed P52-billion insertions made allegedly by the previous House leadership, prompting the leadership to realign the money to other projects.

The alleged insertions were already realigned to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund for the rehabilitation of areas badly hit by Typhoon Ompong, especially Cagayan Valley, Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the Department of Health, DOH’s Health Human Resources Development “to stave off the mass layoff of 6,000 nurses, and doctors and dentists as well,” and capital outlay of state universities and colleges.

The fund were also realigned to technical-vocational laboratories under the Department of Education; to decongest traffic in urban areas; for roads for identified tourism areas; for roads to trade areas, economic zones, livelihood centers and markets; and for the Department of Agriculture’s  farm-to-market roads.