Press Release
June 2, 2006

Senate version lower by P26 billion from House-approved version

Voting 17-0 with no abstention, the Senate passed on Thursday evening on third and final reading the national budget for 2006 amounting to P1.027 trillion, which according to Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Manny Villar is P26.3 billion lower than the House-approved budget of P1.053 trillion.

The total Senate-approved cuts are P64 billion, P26.3 billion from the programmed appropriations and P37.7 billion from the unprogrammed funds, cites Villar.

Among the slashed items in the budget are P42.01 million from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), P49.09 million from the Department of Health (DoH), P13.68 million from the Department of Labor Employment (DOLE), P701.84 million from the Department of National Defense (DND), P4 billion from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), P2.88 billion from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) among others.

Originally, we proposed cuts worth P31 billion, but we restored the P13 billion which is intended for the increase in the allowance of government employees. So technically the cut is only P18 billion, then we added P8 billion more, which added up to P26 billion for the programmed funds, further cites Villar. Of all the government departments and agencies, two got a zero budget from the Senatethe Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the National Printing Office (NPO). The Visiting Forces Agreement Commission (VFACom), on the other hand, was given a one-peso budget.

Villar expressed relief that the Senate has finally approved the much-delayed budget for the year. Passing the national budget is really a tedious and time-consuming process, but Im glad that its done. We are now bracing ourselves for the bicameral conference. With a P64-billion difference in our versions, we expect a heavy discussion with the House conferees in the bicam, says Villar.

The bicameral conference committee would convene on Monday (June 5) to consolidate the Senate and House versions of the 2006 national budget, but according to Villar, he would hold preliminary talks with House bicam conferees over the weekend. The Senate conferees include senators Villar, Joker Arroyo, Ralph Recto, Mar Roxas, Richard Gordon, Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, Serge Osmea, Jinggoy Estrada, Alfredo Lim, Ping Lacson and Jamby Madrigal.

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