Senate OKs proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019

Camille Elemia
Senate OKs proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019
The Senate and House are set to convene a bicameral conference committee on Tuesday, January 22, to settle differences between the two versions of the budget bill

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, January 21, unanimously approved on third and final reading the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019.

Fourteen senators present voted in favor of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) with no negative votes and abstentions.

The Senate’s passage of the budget was delayed by more than a month, after the House’s transmittal of the GAB was delayed following a leadership change.

Since January 1, the government has been operating under a reenacted allocation of P3.767 trillion. It would continue to do so until President Rodrigo Duterte signs the GAB into law.

Among the major changes made by the Senate are the following:

  • The deletion of the controversial P75 billion in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget and road right-of-way allocation. These funds were subsequently realigned to local infrastructure projects and social services.
  • The restoration of the Department of Health’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program worth P16.796 billion, and the provision of P4.797 billion of the P7-billion requirement for human resource for DOH. This was already partially provided in the GAB in the amount of P2.6 billion.
  • Realignments within the unprogrammed fund to provide P10 billion for the Rice Competiveness Enhancement Fund, P10 billion for the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Fund, P18 billion for the implementation of the Universal Health Care, and P40 billion for the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
  • Increased budget for the Office of the Vice President, amounting to P205.7 million.
  • Transfer of the P7.5-billion budget for the 2019 SEA games from the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Philippine Sports Commission.

Congress is set to convene a bicameral conference committee on Tuesday, January 22, to thresh out differences between the two versions. It is expected to be bloody, given the numerous contradicting provisions between the House and Senate budget bills.

After the budget bill is finalized, both chambers of Congress would have to ratify the bicam report before it is sent to Duterte for signing. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com