Press Release
May 19, 2006


Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, is all set to sponsor the General Appropriations Act of 2006 or the proposed 2006 national budget on Monday (May 22) to start off plenary discussions.

"We have around two weeks or exactly 15 session days to finally approve the proposed budget for this year. Its doable but we have to admit that the schedule is a bit tight for us senators considering the fact that the Lower House had the luxury of discussing the budget for more than eight months," say Villar.

The Lower House formally submitted its approved version of the budget to the Senate on the eve of the Lenten recess of Congress on April 5, 2006. The budget was submitted to the Lower House last August 24, 2005 or within the 30-day constitutional mandate for submission from the date of the President's State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) in July.

The Senate, on the other hand, has convened into a Committee of the Whole during the third quarter of last year to fast-track the review of the budget in the committee level so that plenary discussions would go smoothly and swiftly as the major issues or concerns of the senators would have been addressed already.

According to Villar, "The Senate is committed to passing the budget. It is after all the single most important law that should be passed by Congress annually. It is vital piece of legislation that would pave the way for the efficient operation of the government."

Plenary discussion of the 2006 budget is expected to wind up on Friday (May 26), after which, a bicameral conference between the Senate and the Lower House will be convened.

"We can't tell yet what will happen during the bicameral conference. But definitely we have made amendments to the House-approved version, we will zero in on questionable lump-sum appropriations`. The committee has consulted all the senators and we will incorporate their proposals in our budget proposal or recommendation," cites Villar.

This year marks the fourth year that the national budget has been delayed in 2002, 2003 and 2005 as well. Likewise, this is the second time in the past five years that the country's budget was reenacted, whether partly or fully.

Under the proposed 2006 national budget, the Department of Education gets the lion's 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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