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Sept. 30 deadline for House approval of ’23 budget stays

Photo credit: House of Representatives of the Philippines Facebook page

THE leadership of the House of Representatives is confident of the September 30 deadline that they have set in approving the proposed economic recovery budget for 2023.

During the Ugnayan sa Batasan Majority News Forum, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, House Committee on Appropriation Senior Vice Chairperson Stella Luz Quimbo, and Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Party-list Rep. Margarita Ignacia “Migs” Nograles all sounded hopeful that the national budget or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) would have smooth sailing in the chamber, which has the power of the purse.

The National Expenditure Program (NEP), the precursor of the GAB, will be submitted to the lower chamber on Monday, August 22.

Quimbo said the appropriations committee, chaired by Rep. Zaldy Co, commits to the swift approval of an economic recovery budget aligned with the Executive’s 8-point economic agenda.

“Chair Co’s vision is to have an effective review and expedient approval of the budget while devoting equal attention to the subsequent monitoring of the budget execution itself, upholding both Congress’ power of the purse and oversight function,” said Quimbo.

To ensure timely approval of the national budget, she said the appropriations committee has deployed more budget sponsors for the upcoming deliberations.

“We need to ensure that the budget truly embodies the new administration’s Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF). This economic recovery budget supports the President’s agenda, beginning with the return to face-to-face classes for our students. The comprehensive framework contains the general principles that will serve as an anchor in crafting the budget for 2023 and the years to come,” Quimbo added.

“While a number have pointed out that the increase in our 2023 budget ceiling from last year is pegged at 4.4 percent and see this as a limitation, Chairman Co challenged us in the committee, through our oversight functions, to be steadfast in ensuring that the 2023 Budget will be effectively absorbed and implemented. Effective budget utilization is even more important than a budget increase,” she said.

Recess

By September 30, the House will begin its first recess in the 19th Congress and won’t convene until over a month later on November 6.

“We made it last Congress, we were able to beat the September 30 deadline, giving all members of the House of Representatives time to deliberate, interpellate intelligently with all the departments. This is where the process began, and we wanted all members to have a chance to scrutinize the budget. And we were able to do that,” Dalipe said.

“I can confidently say, we can make the September 30 deadline,” underscored the Zamboanga City 2nd district congressman.

Quimbo, a senior vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, gave an idea of how the House will tackle the NEP.

“August 22 is when we expect the NEP to be submitted to us by the executive and basically…this is merely a ceremonial turnover. After that, we will now have the budget briefings. So ito na ‘yung sequential budget briefings with every agency and this will start on August 26 with a briefing by the DBCC (Development Budget Coordination Committee),” she said.

According to Quimbo, the committee plans to finish the per-agency hearings by September 16. That means that the House plenary will have around two weeks to have the GAB approved on third and final reading before the scheduled recess.

Nograles, for her part, said the appropriations panel will hold a meeting this week to prepare for the NEP’s submission.

“We already have a meeting this week for the Committee on Appropriations to be able to really buckle down and talk about the budget that we will be handling. We aim to finish that before [the start of the recess] on September 30,” Nograles said.

Image credits: House of Representatives/Facebook



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