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Philippines : Bicameral conference committee approves bicam report on 2016 national budget.

The House and Senate bicameral conference committee on House Bill 6132 or the 2016 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) today approved the bicameral report on the national budget, which reconciled the amendments of both chambers.

The 2016 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) provides for a P3.002 trillion national budget for 2016.

The chairpersons of the bicameral panel, Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Isidro T. Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, both thanked the panel members for their support to its task to hammer out the final version of the 2016 national budget. The bicameral panel started discussions on HB 6132 last December 1.

Ungab said they expect the ratification of the bicameral committee report before the holiday break of lawmakers, and subsequently the signing of the budget bill by President Aquino before the year's end.

Ungab said this will be the sixth year that the budget passage was done on time. "So by January 1, 2016, there will be a new budget of the Republic of the Philippines," said Ungab.

Ungab cited there were four substantial changes, restorations and augmentations in HB 6132 that were reflected in the bicameral report namely: an increase of P1.2 billion in the budget for indigent senior citizens; an increase in the budget of state universities and colleges (SUCs) by P2.7 billion to cover their capital outlays; the veterans' pension totaling P4.7 billion was sustained; and provision of P7 billion to fully fund the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) of 2015 for its first tranche of implementation next year.

Legarda said the bicameral body constituted a small group after its first meeting to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate amendments.

Legarda said changes to HB 6132 include the increase in the Department of Education (DepEd) budget. Per the bicameral report, the DepEd original budget of P411.482 billion was increased by P422.468 million, for a final budget of P411.905 billion.

Legarda said the DepEd budget increase includes: P50 million for the preservation of Gabaldon school buildings which are considered National Heritage; funds for Special Education for persons with disability; Education and Sustainable Development and teachers training; the Philippine High School for the Arts additional allocation of P25.64 million for capital outlay; for SUCS, additional amount for the University of the Philippines for the construction of buildings and gyms, and support to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

For the Philippine Normal University (PNU), Legarda said an amount was provided for the modernization of PNU on the basis of Republic Act 9467. She said all the other SUCs would receive additional funding which will be used for academic buildings, equipment and the Tulong Dunong Program. Likewise, all SUCs were provided increase in capital outlays according to Legarda.

For the Department of Energy (DOE), Legarda said an amount was provided for personnel services for the Renewable Energy and Management Bureau, and the legal services and compliance service.

Per the bicameral report, the DOE original budget of P775.876 million per HB 6132 was increased by P19.564 million, for a final budget of P795.440 million.

Meanwhile, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) additional fund was provided for the construction or repair of various buildings of the Philippine Science High School, and technical assistance to the Philippine Research Institute.

For budgetary support to Government Corporations, Legarda said funding was provided for the National Dairy Authority, and for the specialty hospitals to allow them acquire new equipment and be provided with assistance to indigent patients.

She said funds for the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) were also adjusted to provide funds for the Quick Response Fund of the Department of National Defense (DND)-OSEC that was not previously provided to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), which are front liners in times of national hazards, and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) since it did not have funds for rescue operations.

Per the bicameral report, the DOST budget of P17.949 billion was increased by P80 million, for a final budget of P18.029 billion. Budgetary support to government corporations per HB 6132 had a budget of P113.351 billion, and this was adjusted by P9.8 billion, for a final budget of P103.453 billion. Meanwhile, the DOTC budget of P43.453 billion was adjusted by P773 million, for a final budget of P42.680 billion.

Overall, the bicameral report provides for a total budget of P1,651,521,790 for the various government departments, with a net change of P11,295,251, for a final amount of P1,662,817,041.

Both the budgets for programmed new appropriations and unprogrammed fund amounting to P2.071 billion and P67.5 billion respectively, were retained.

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Publication:Mena Report
Article Type:Conference news
Date:Dec 9, 2015
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