Senate approves 2014 national budget on third and final reading
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines â Voting 16-0, without abstention, the SenateÂ on TuesdayÂ approved on third and final reading the P1.608 trillion in new appropriations under the national budget for 2014, exclusive of P656.3 billion in automatic appropriations that do not pass the congressional hurdle. Taken together, they make for a total P2.264-trillion national expenditures program (NEP).
âWith 16 affirmative votes, no negative votes and no abstention, the 2014 national budget under House Bill No. 2630 and Committee Report No. 5, is hereby approved on third and final reading,â Senate President Franklin Drilon said.
The total new appropriations of P1.608 trillion approved by the Senate is P3.2 billion lower than the original version submitted by the House ofÂ Representatives, or P1.611 trillion.
The difference of P3.2 billion came from the pork barrel of 15 senators who gave up their individual Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations amounting to P200 million each, and from Vice President Jejomar Binay.
After voting to approve the budget, the Senate likewise elected members of its contingent to the Bicameral Conference Committee:Â Senators Francis Escudero, Serge Osmena, Loren Legarda, Teofisto Guingona III, Ralph Recto, Vicente Sotto III, Jinggoy Estrada and Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano.
P100-billion disaster fund
Meanwhile, Escudero said he is looking at a P100-billion disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction fund for 2014, to be presented during the Bicameral Conference Committee on the national budget next week.
Escudero, Senate Finance committee chairman, said there is a fiscal space to increase the original Palace proposal for calamity funds amounting to P7.5 billion. The Senate version is for a P13-billion calamity fund.
He initially proposed the creation of a special fund for disaster rehabilitation, increasing the Senate-approved version to P20 billion. Â
âUpon further review of the budget we found more flexibility to further increase the proposed P20-billion rehabilitation funds. It now stands to amount to 100 billion. The components are: P80 billion from unprogrammed funds, P20 billion from programmed funds,â he explained.
Escudero said there is as yet no final estimate of the amount needed to rehabilitate and reconstruct the areas wiped out not only by typhoon Yolanda, but other past disasters, but initial cost estimates are already staggering.
Latest estimates from the National Disaster Risk Management Council (NDRRMC) pegs Yolandaâs damage alone at P22.6 billion, with damage to infrastructure at P11.9 billion and agriculture, P10.7 billion.
âThe cataclysmic force that hit our country requires serious response to influence significant rehabilitation and reconstruction of the communities barrelled by catastrophes. We need to infuse major financial foundation to recoup and retain the physical, economic and social viability of these communities,â the senator said.
As this developed, Escudero said the finance committee will begin hearing ThursdayÂ the proposed measures for a supplemental budget to augment the 2013 disaster relief fund.
This yearâs calamity fund amounts to P7.5 billion, and Escudero and fellow senators said this is already almost depleted to obligate rescue, relief, and rehabilitation and reconstruction requirements of communities struck and displaced by disasters.
âWe are on track; we will pass the budget on time. It is critical that we must because this budget fuels not only the entire government machinery but also our capability and capacity as a nation,â the senator explained.
- Air Canada plane 'exits' Halifax runway, 23 injured 5 hours from now
- Arab strikes on rebels hit Yemen's main airport 5 hours from now
- White House showed 'reprehensible animosity' to Netanyahu - Boehner 4 hours from now
- Jihadist chief killed as thousands march in Tunisia 4 hours from now
- Pakistan sends plane, frigate to evacuate citizens from Yemen 4 hours from now
- Alps crash captain shouted 'open the damn door' 3 hours from now
- Greece seeks 'happy ending' as creditors mull loan deal 3 hours from now
- Dutch bikes given to Syrian refugee camp in Jordan 3 hours from now
- Theories behind riddle of Alps crash co-pilot's actions 2 hours from now
- DNA from 78 Germanwings crash victims found 2 hours from now
- Tiangco says PNoy terrorizing people to sell 'peace,' seeks respect for Congress' work 2 hours from now
- Philippine use of foreign aid improves in the fourth quarter 1 hour from now
- BATTLE PLAN | US CDC bares plan to beat superbugs, nightmare infections 44 minutes from now
- World powers intensify Iran nuclear talks, Israel hopes for failure 10 minutes ago
- BIFF commander Abesali killed, Karialan's son wounded in clash with soldiers in Maguindanao 1 hour ago