Press Release
May 22, 2006


Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, sponsored the proposed 2006 national budget in the plenary yesterday where he also announced that the proposed amendments of the Senate to the House version of the budget would amount to a net cut of P31.11 billion.

"After examining the budget with a fine-toothed comb during the six-month period set aside for the Committee of the Whole sessions, we have come up with our proposed amendments to the House Bill. The Senate amendments yielded an increase of P4.43 billion and a decrease of P35.54 billion resulting to a net cut of P31.11 billion," says Villar on his sponsorship speech.

Among proposed cuts in the Senate version of the 2006 budget are as follows: deletion of the Kilos Asenso Support Fund (P3 billion); deletion of Kalayaan Barangay Program Fund (P3.69 billion); deletion of P13.1 billion Compensation Adjustment Fund; deletion of P10 billion for the incentive package for employees availing of the Rationalization Program under the Pension and Gratuity Fund; deletion of the entire budget of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (P65.53 million); cut of P2.72 billion from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) budget; etc.

Other Senate amendments include: increase of P350 million to the Department of Health (DoH) budget; increase of P100 million to the Commission of Higher Education (CHED); increase of P100 million to the University of the Philippines (UP); increase of P50 million under the Agriculture of Fisheries Modernization Program for the Young Farmers Program; etc.

According to Villar, "What we seek to enact is a responsible and prudent budget, one that is concerned with quantity as well as quality of spendingFiscal responsibility entails having the right spending priorities so that if additional responsibilities can sustain a much bigger budget, the extra layers of fat are added where they will lead to fiscal health and not to an obese budget."

Villar adds that this year's budget is meatier compared to the barebones budget of recent years. "The 2006 budget is meatier, this time with more flesh between the bones. In the past decade, the national budget grew at an average of 9.85%. The 2006 budget will grow by as much as 14.7% amounting to P135 billion it has the highest annual increase in six years, from year 2000, when the budget increased by 17.59%."

Villar also hit at the delayed transmittal of the budget to the Senate. 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, thus it took the representatives over eight months to pass the budget.

To recall, as early as November last year, the Senate constituted itself into a Committee of the Whole to fast-track discussions and to ensure prompt approval of the budget. Plenary discussions are slated to be finished by Friday (May 26) and a bicameral conference will be scheduled soon after.

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