THE House of Representatives will distribute next year’s national budget “equitably” among local government units, congressional districts and agencies, Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.
The House of Representatives with the help of the Senate and Executive branch would enforce “federalism in the budget to make sure that there is no province, city or municipality that’s left behind,” he told reporters.
“Federalism is more sustainable because it is more equitable,” Mr. Cayetano said. “There should be no excuse that remote rural areas would have no electricity or water supply,” he said.
Mr. Cayetano also said the House would ensure that enough funds are allotted to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
He said the chamber’s budget reforms require “a change of approach, including the timeline” in the budget enactment process.
“It’s too tedious,” he said. “The President proposes the budget in July, we are done with the deliberations in the House in October, the Senate finishes its own consideration of the proposal in November, and we finally approve it and the President signs it in December.”
Mr. Cayetano said economic managers were mulling a budget of P4.6 trillion for next year, about P500 billion more than this year’s budget.
Congress approved the 2020 appropriations bill before 2019 ended and Mr. Duterte signed it at the start of the New Year.
The enactment of the 2019 budget was delayed by at least three months due to wrangling between the House and Senate over alleged budget insertions.
Mr. Cayetano said last year’s deliberations on the P4.1-trillion 2020 spending program had been transparent.
“During the bicameral conference, in the spirit of transparency, it was the first time that the Senate gave us their proposed changes and we gave them our proposed amendments,” he said.
He claimed the House proposals “were not pork,” including the P1-billion camp development fund congressmen gave to the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police.
“Is that pork? I do not even know which camp will benefit from the appropriation,” he added.
He said the Interior and Local Government department would be the one to decide where the money would be spent. — Genshen L. Espedido