MANILA – The leadership of the House of Representatives on Tuesday expressed confidence on meeting the September 30 deadline in approving the proposed national budget for 2023.
In a press conference, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe said the national budget or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for next year would face smooth sailing in the lower chamber, which has the power of the purse.
The National Expenditure Program (NEP), the precursor of the GAB, will be submitted to the House on Aug. 22.
The House will begin its first recess in the 19th Congress on Sept. 30 and will convene until over a month later on Nov. 6.
"Last Congress nagawa natin 'yun (In the last Congress we made it), 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. Dito nagsimula 'yung proseso, at gusto naming mabigyan lahat ng mga miyembro ng Kamara ng panahon na ma-scrutinize 'yung budget (The budget process starts here and we want to give all House members time to scrutinize the proposed budget). And we were able to do that," Dalipe said. "I can confidently say, we can make the September 30 deadline."
Marikina City Representative Stella Luz Quimbo, a senior vice chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations, said the panel aims to finish the hearings per agency by Sept. 16.
Quimbo noted that the House plenary will have around two weeks to have another set of budget deliberations and approve the GAB on third and final reading before the scheduled recess.
"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 (these are) sequential budget briefings with every agency and this will start on August 26 with a briefing by the DBCC (Development and Budget Coordination Committee)," she said during the press conference.
Quimbo said in a separate statement that House appropriations committee chair Zaldy Co committed to the swift approval of an "economic recovery budget" that would be aligned with the executive branch'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," Quimbo said.
She pointed out that the panel has deployed more budget sponsors for the upcoming deliberations to ensure the timely approval of the national budget.
Quimbo added that Co challenged the committee members to be steadfast in ensuring that the 2023 budget will be effectively absorbed and implemented, stressing that effective budget utilization is even more important than a budget increase.
"Rest assured that Congress shall work tirelessly to approve a budget that is responsive to the needs of the people and is able to bring inclusive and sustainable growth," she said.
PBA Party-list Rep. Margarita 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. (PNA)