Budget bill hurdles Senate; bicam today

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Senate Loren B. Legarda -- PHILSTAR

THE SENATE approved on Wednesday its version of the proposed budget for 2018, which is derived from the P3.7 trillion House Bill 6215 approved earlier by that chamber.

The budget was unanimously approved on third reading by 16 senators with no abstentions.

Complete information regarding the approved Senate version of the budget, including the final totals and departmental breakdowns, was not immediately made available.

The House version gives the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) the biggest share of the budget at P560.83 billion and P600.37 billion, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense was allocated P141.40 billion and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was given P141.158 billion.

Senate finance committee chair Loren B. Legarda said during an interview that both houses of Congress will convene in bicameral conference to reconcile the differences in their budget bills starting today, Nov. 30 at the House of Representatives.

“We will not be able to finish the bicam until next week,” Ms. Legarda said.

“By third week of December. I think we will have a budget. Before Christmas,” Ms. Legarda added. — Arjay L. Balinbin