MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives began its plenary deliberations on the proposed P3.35-trillion 2017 budget on Monday, September 26.
First up on the agenda were floor presentations of the budgets of the following agencies:
In his sponsorship speech of House Bill Number 3408 or the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017, House committee on appropriations chairperson Karlos Nograles affirmed that the budget is consistent with President Rodrigo Duterte's promise of "real change."
"This proposed budget aims to ensure that our limited resources are maximized towards making our government work better for our people, most especially those in the countrysides, who have felt forgotten and neglected," said Nograles.
"It is a budget that expands the productive capacities of the national economy to ensure that the poor are enabled to engage in the processes of and benefit from the fruits of growth, to truly bring nation building to the consciousness and reality of every Filipino," he added.
The proposed 2017 budget is 11.6% higher than the 2016 budget and represents 21% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) next year.
According to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, the 2017 budget was crafted to complement Duterte's 10-point agenda. (READ: 2017 budget priorities: Infrastructure, agriculture, peace and order)
From P758.4 billion in 2016, the proposed budget for public infrastructure next year is higher at P860.7 billion or about 5.4% of GDP. Agriculture and rural development will be allotted P120.5 billion.
The Duterte administration, which has declared a war on drugs and crime, also wants to give P206.6 billion for public order and safety.
Prior to the plenary deliberations, the appropriations committee held 33 hearings on the budget proposals of the different government departments and their attached agencies, corporations, and offices from August 22 to September 14.
The House panel also led 15 pre-plenary conferences from September 14 to 22, with another 7 scheduled this week.
For Nograles, the proposed 2017 budget is "more than just a catalogue of numbers and a litany of allocations that are skillfully calculated to arrive at equitable shares in the pie of the state's financial resources."
"It is the vessel of our noblest aspirations for our people. It is our roadmap to a future of social peace, public order, and inclusive national development. It is an embodiment of our people's call for real and lasting change," he said.
The House of Representatives will hold daily plenary deliberations until October 7. – Rappler.com