House starts budget debate

The House of Representatives began the plenary deliberations on the General Appropriations Bill on Tuesday in line with its goal to pass the proposed national budget for 2023 before the 19th Congress takes its first recess on 1 October.

House Committee on Appropriations chairperson Elizaldy Co of Ako Bicol Partylist stressed during his sponsorship speech that the eight-point socioeconomic agenda of the Marcos administration is incorporated in the GAB.

The GAB, also known as House Bill 4488, entitled “An Act appropriating funds for the operation of the government of the Republic of the Philippines from January one to December thirty-one, two thousand and twenty-three (1 January to 31 December 2023)” has over 50 House members listed as authors.

“It is now the responsibility of the House of Representatives through the Committee on Appropriations, where the General Appropriations Act originates, to pass a timely, responsive and inclusive budget for the Filipino people,” said Co, the principal sponsor of the bill.

According to the House leader, the 8-point socioeconomic agenda is an action plan for the immediate recovery of the economy from the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The near-term objective is to address rising inflation driven by internal and external factors, socioeconomic scarring and low income,” he said.

“We shall be able to deliver the necessary tools and resources with this budget to improve the lives of our constituents and uplift their hope for a better quality of life and future prosperity, and advancement of the Filipino people,” he added.

Overall goal

Co said out that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ budget message clearly underlines that the overall goal is to reinvigorate job creation and reduce poverty by steering the economy back to its high-growth path in the near term and sustaining its high, inclusive, and resilient growth in the long term.

“The proposed FY 2023 national budget amounting to P5.268 trillion is 22.2 percent of GDP. This is 4.9 percent higher or P244.4 Billion more than the FY 2022 budget of P5.023 trillion. The new general appropriations that Congress will authorize is P4.259 trillion, consisting of P3.671 trillion in Programmed New Appropriations and P588.2 billion in Unprogrammed Appropriations,” he explained.

The proposed P5.268 trillion National Expenditure Program was scrutinized for three weeks by the appropriations panel through laborious per agency budget deliberations, some of which lasted eight to ten hours.

Meanwhile, senior vice chairperson Stella Luz Quimbo of Marikina, sponsor of the General Principles and Provisions of the 2023 GAB, said during her speech that the Marcos administration drafted the medium-term fiscal framework or Medium-Term Fiscal Framework.

She said the 2023 budget would be the first step in achieving MTFF’s goals of increasing employment and reducing poverty since it aims to expand the economy, stabilize prices, increase revenues, manage and pay the country’s debt and grow the economy.

“Mr. Speaker, while we may have different ideas on how to recover as we debate today, we must all be guided by the convergent principles and rules,” said Quimbo during her sponsorship remarks.

She pointed out that convergent goals must guide Congress to invest in farmers, enhance human capital, support micro, small, and medium enterprises, and create effective physical and digital infrastructure networks.

“By creating a vibrant atmosphere for business, small businesses develop, and investments come in. With more investments, jobs are created. And with more and better jobs come prospects for growth.

That is the blueprint of our economic recovery,” Quimbo said.

Earlier, House leaders vowed to finish committee and plenary deliberations on the proposed budget for 2023 on or before the 19th Congress took its first recess on 1 October.

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