‘Exacting, rigorous’: Cabinet takes up budget for 10 hours

The Aquino administration is running behind its preparation of the 2014 budget. Each Cabinet member was grilled as in 'a thesis defense.'

LONG TALKS. President Benigno S. Aquino III presides over the Cabinet Meeting at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room of the Malacañang Palace on Monday, July 8. Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – “He doesn’t tire.”

Seven hours into the 16th meeting of President Benigno Aquino III and his Cabinet, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas tweeted this: 

“It’s like we’re all presenting a thesis defense with the questions of PNoy,” Roxas said.

The meeting, which actually started at 10:30 am on Monday, July 8, ran until the evening, ending at 8:30 pm.

“We are moving into performance-informed budgeting, so PNoy was asking a lot of questions regarding outputs and outcomes and corresponding budgets,” said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. “He was exacting and rigorous.”

The Aquino administration is running behind its budget preparation schedule.

As of 4 days ago, the 2014 national budget amount had yet to be finalized, although Abad said the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) was looking at a budget of P2.268 trillion for next year – a number that was not yet set in stone.

Additionally, agency proposals should have been deliberated on and the budget plan should have been presented to Aquino and his Cabinet in June.

Abad said the final budget has yet to be determined. Many of the Cabinet secretaries have to “refine outputs and validate figures,” he said.

The Cabinet will meet again on Wednesday, July 10.

This was not the first time in the past month that Cabinet meetings with Aquino had run long. A 10-hour Malacañang meeting from 10:30 am to 9 pm in mid-June fueled rumors it was an emergency gathering.

The next day, Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras dispelled rumors and explained the meeting was a planned review of the Philippine Development Plan. Almendras explained the meeting lasted the whole day because they talked about plans “down to the details.” – Rappler.com

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