Press Release
October 9, 2006

Villar Confident Senate Can Pass the 2007 Budget on Time

Senate President Manny Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party, says the Senate is well on track in its timetable to pass the proposed P1.136-trillion national budget for 2007.

According to Villar, he does not anticipate any hitches that would likely derail the passage of the General Appropriations Act of 2007 with the way the Senate is prioritizing the committee hearings on the proposed budget of various government agencies.

As of Friday (October 6), since it started the committee-level budget hearings, the Senate Committee on Finance had scrutinized the proposed outlays of 29 government agencies.

"Its really a tedious task to go through all the proposed budgets of numerous departments and agencies of the government. We are talking about piles and piles of documents. The committee has to scrutinize each of these, its no joke to do that," says Villar, a former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance.

"Based on the update given by the committee chairman and members, the Senate is almost halfway through in its committee-level budget hearings, if we remain on schedule, we will have the budget for next year approved before the end of this year, which is the way it should be really," cites Villar.

Under the committee's timeline, it will wind up the hearing on November 8, the same day the Senate expects the House of Representatives to transmit its approved version of the proposed budget. By November 21, the Finance committee is expected to file its committee report and the following day it will already be sponsored on the floor.

The only possible hitch, as in the past, in the passage of the proposed national budget would be the delayed transmittal from the Lower House. The Senate would not be able to deliberate the measure on the floor without first receiving the lower chamber's version, he said.

From 1993 to 2000, the Lower House consistently transmitted to the Senate its approved version of the budget in the second half of November, according to the data of the Senate Bills and Index Office.

But from 2001 to 2006, the records show, it became inconsistent, resulting in the reenactment of the national budget thrice in 2001, 2004 and 2006. The transmittal delay was more glaring in 2006 when the Senate got the House budget version only on April 4, but the Senate managed to pass it in less than two weeks.

If schedule goes according to the finance committee's timetable, the Senate expects to hold the bicameral meeting on the proposed 2007 budget by December 13 and the approval of the bicameral report on December 20.

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