Press Release
June 13, 2006

Lays down other possible scenarios such as continuation of bicam during recess, creating a supplemental budget among others

Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, says that all is still not lost as far as the proposed 2006 national budget is concerned, despite the impasse that transpired between the Senate and the House of Representatives during the bicameral conference.

We are not closing our doors on reopening bicameral discussions on the budget, although the differences between the two conferring parties seem to be irreconcilable. Both sides did its best to hammer out a compromise and talk to hardliners to reach an agreement. There are still windows of opportunities to continue doing so, says Villar.

To recall, the bicameral conference held on June 5th lasted a little over an hour only before it bogged down as conferring parties failed to budge on the issue of budgetary cuts. The Senate passed the 2006 budget on June 1st with cuts amounting to P64 billionP26.3 billion from programmed and P37.7 billion from unprogrammed appropriations.

According to Villar, as a possible remedy if worse comes to worst and a reenacted budget would be used for the entire year, is to create a supplemental budget. We are exploring the possibility of creating a supplemental budget. Our committee is reviewing the budget to identify departments or agencies that would be adversely hit with a reenacted budget such as PhilHealth and additional classrooms. We dont want the people to suffer unnecessarily, cites Villar.

Villar further cites, For six months now, the country is already running on a reenacted budget. While I have always been vocal about my aversion over a reenacted budget, it has some good points as well. With a reenacted budget, we would have a very small deficit, which would result to lower borrowings. Of course, a new budget is still the best option.

Moreover, Villar says, even while the bicameral conference did not prosper and there is no time to reconvene because of the adjournment sine die, continuing the bicameral conference during the recess or congressional break is still likely, as long as both parties would agree to it.

If we are really bent on having a new budget, even if its over half a year late, we can hold bicameral discussions during the break and then approve it when Congress resumes in July. Even though, by July 24th, on the opening of the 3rd regular session of the 13th Congress, the President would already present the proposed budget for 2007, adds Villar.

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