Senate confident of 2024 budget approval ‘as scheduled’

By Wilnard Bacelonia

November 21, 2023, 6:52 pm

<p>Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri (File photo)

MANILA – Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri is confident that the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA) will be approved as scheduled after the Senate formally closed its plenary debates on the proposed 2024 budgets of various government agencies early Tuesday.

Zubiri said the termination of plenary debates proves how serious senators are in their constitutional mandate in looking at every detail of the budget to ensure that taxes being paid by the people are spent properly.

“We are on track as to the schedule of passing a budget on time and as to our promise of one that funds the nation's progress and the welfare of the people," Zubiri said.

The Senate ended its budget plenary deliberations for the PHP5.768-trillion proposed 2024 national budget at 4:20 a.m., which Zubiri cited as the fruit of the Senate's months of "tedious and thorough" scrutiny.

Halos dalawang linggo na rin tayong marathon sessions at inaabot ng halos bukang-liwayway sa ating deliberations. Puyatan pero kailangan. Mabuti na lamang at mayroon tayong mga senador na ubod ng sisipag at sanay sa walang tulugan, pareho mula sa majority at minority (It’s been almost two weeks that we have marathon sessions that lasted until almost sunrise. We are fortunate to have senators from both the majority and the minority who are very diligent and accustomed to no sleep),” Zubiri said.

The session ended with Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito, Deputy Majority Leader Mark Villar, Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros, and Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Go, Grace Poe, Bong Revilla, Sherwin Gatchalian and Robinhood Padilla present "when the last question on the last budget item on the last agency was asked and answered."

With the plenary deliberations already concluded, the Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Senator Sonny Angara is set to sponsor the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) back to the plenary where it would undergo second and third readings.

According to the schedule presented by the panel to the media, the Senate will start preparing for the second and third reading of GAB on November 22.

After its scheduled approval by the Senate on November 27, the senators will be preparing for the bicameral conference with the House of Representatives which is scheduled from November 29 to December 1.

The GAB's bicameral report, which should be signed by December 6 and prepared and enrolled as a bill starting on December 7, would be sent to the Department of Budget and Management on December 15 before it could be signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on December 16. (PNA)