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Aquino signs P3.002-trillion 2016 General Appropriations Act.

President Aquino yesterday signed the P3.002-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2016, the sixth consecutive time that the national budget was signed on time.

"Ibig pong sabihin, mula nang maupo tayo hanggang sa huling yugto ng ating termino, hindi tayo sumablay sa pagpapasa ng ating budget on time (This means that since we came into office until the end of our term, we have not been remiss in passing our budget on time)," President Aquino said in his speech following the signing.

The Department of Education (DepEd) gets the biggest slice of the budget at P436.5 billion, a 16 percent increase from 2015. Included in the fund is the establishment of 47,553 classrooms, procurement of 103.2 million new textbooks, and the hiring of 79,691 positions for teaching and non-teaching personnel.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has P400.4 billion, a 32 percent increase from 2015; Department of National Defense (DND) has P175.2 billion, a 14 percent increase from 2015;

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has P154.5 billion; the Department of Health (DOH), P128.5 billion; the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P111.0 billion; the Department of Agriculture (DA), P94 billion; the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), P48.5 billion; the Department of Finance (DOF), P33.2-billion; and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), P24.8 billion.

The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program was allocated P62.7 billion, which will target 4.6 million household beneficiaries for 2016.

"Ayon nga po sa inisyal na pag-aaral ng DSWD, 1.5 million na kabahayan o katumbas ng 7.5 million na Pilipino ang naiangat na lampas sa tinatawag na poverty line dahil sa Pantawid Pamilya (Accoarding to the report of the DSWD, 1.5 million households equivalent to 7.5 million Filipinos have been raised from the poverty line because of the CCT program)," Aquino said.

To combat the adverse effects of Climate Change, the administration allocated P38.9 billion for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund. This includes funds for the rehabilitation and recovery of "Yolanda" affected areas.

"Ngayong patapos na ang ating termino, binibigyan natin ng kapasidad ang susunod na administrasyon na ipagpatuloy at higit pang maisulong ang pagbabagong nangyayari sa ating lipunan (Now that my term is coming to an end, we are giving the next administration the capacity to continue the reforms)," Aquino said.

Social services, which also covers housing, livelihood and community-driven projects, account for P1.106 trillion or 36.8 percent of the budget, while economic services covering infrastructure, agriculture, transport, and communications account for P829.6 billion or 27.6 percent.

General public services will have P517.9 billion or 17.3 percent, while defense and security will receive P129.1 billion or 4.3 percent.

Meanwhile, 14 percent of the budget will go to debt interest payment, the lowest-ever debt payment allocation that the government has set in 10 years.

DRILON LAUDS AQUINO

Senate President Franklin Drilon lauded President Aquino for the consistent approval of the national budget on schedule during his six-year term.

"This achievement in budgetary reform and transparency is no small feat. To my recollection, in our recent national history, only the present Aquino administration was able to ensure the timely passage of the national budget throughout its term, which means unimpeded delivery of services to the Filipino people," he said.

The larger budget for next year will "sustain the pro-people investment of the current administration," he said.

The 2016 GAA is higher by P396 billion or 15.2 percent than the P2.606-trillion 2015 national budget.

"It will be a challenge for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to improve and enhance their revenue collection strategies in order that we will have ample funds for all the programs and services earmarked under the 2016 budget," Drilon said.

"With the many reforms instituted in both the BIR and the BOC during this administration, this goal is surely possible," said the senator. (With a report from Hannah L. Torregoza)

CAPTION(S):

LAST NATIONAL BUDGET - President Aquino (seated, 3rd from left) is all smiles after signing the P3.002-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2016 as he is flanked by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. who joined more than 200 government officials during the ceremony held at the Rizal Hall in MalacaAaAaAeA~a yesterday. (Richard V. ViAaAaAeA~a
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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Dec 23, 2015
Words:746
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