Press Release
April 4, 2006


Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, says the House of Representatives has approved on second reading the P1.053-trillion proposed national budget for 2006, but it is yet to be formally submitted to the Senate, with only two days left before the Senate adjourns for the Lenten break.

After much delay, the Lower House approved on second reading on March 23 the proposed General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2006. But according to Villar, In two days time, on April 6, the Senate would adjourn for a five-week break, thus as usual there wont be time to convene a bicameral conference. We in the Senate have done our homework as a Committee of the Whole. We have been doing marathon sessions since the third quarter of last year.

To recall, late last year, the Senate convened into a Committee of the Whole to fast-track the review of the budget in the committee level so when it is time for plenary discussions, the major issues or concerns of the senators would have been addressed already.

The Lower House still has to pass on third and final reading the national budget. I doubt it if they can turnover the budget to us before we go on recess on Friday (April 7). In an ideal scenario, the national budget should have been passed before the end of the previous year. If it were to suffer a delay, at least before the end of March or within the first quarter, the budget should already be approved, cites Villar.

Villar further cites, Beyond the first quarter, its definitely too late already. If the House hands over the budget to us before we adjourn this week, we have five weeks to approve the budget when the Senate resumes on May 14. As usual, we in the Senate are pressed for time. The budget was submitted to the House as early as August 2005, so it was with them for almost eight months.

This year marks the third year in a row that the national budget has been delayed. Under the proposed 2006 national budget, the Department of Education gets the lions share with P119.1 billion. The Department of Public Works and Highways takes the second largest allocation with P62.3 billion, followed by National Defense with P46.6 billion, Department of Interior and Local government P45.6 billion and Department of Agriculture with P15.6 billion, Department of Transportation and Communications P14.3 billion. The Department of Health will get P10.6 billion and as in previous years debt service payments corner 33% or one-third of the budget with P340 billion.

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