Senate begins deliberations on 2013 budget

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2012 03:43 PM | Updated as of Nov 22 2012 06:04 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The proposed  Senate version of the budget bill for 2013 is not substantially different from the version passed by the House of Representatives.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Franklin Drilon has sponsored in plenary the proposed 2013 national budget. “allow me to state that no major amendments were introduced in the House-approved General Appropriations Bill. “

Drilon explained that while the said bill does not include the Priority Social and Economic Project Fund, a lump-sum fund newly created in the President’s Budget, the specific programs, projects and activities contained therein have been transferred back to the relevant implementing agencies. 

Drilon’s committee proposed that programmed funds will be maintained at the House bill level amounting to P1,250,780,785,000.00. 

Senator Franklin Drilon, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, speaks with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima during the first day of deliberations of the 2013 National budget, Wednesday, November 21. Also in this photo is Department of Budget and Management Secretary Butch Abad. / PRIB Photo by Alex Nuevaespana

"With Unprogrammed Funds remaining the same at P117,548,371,000.00, Total New Appropriations will amount to P1,368,329,156,000.00," he said. 

Drilon said incremental funds will be provided to the Bureau of Immigration for the purchase of five (5) passport reading machines, as well as additional funds for repairs and maintenance for the Anti-Money Laundering Program.  

Drilon added that within the Supreme Court of the Philippine, P1 million will be realigned from MOOE to Capital Outlays to provide for a line item for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice which could be augmented from their savings. 

Drilon also said that their proposal has P500,000 that will be realigned within the Commission on Elections to provide for purchase of land and construction of building to serve as a warehouse for PCOS machines.  

“Under the Unprogrammed Fund, P23.4 billion will be realigned for the Universal Health Care Program, which shall be subject to the incremental revenue from the enactment of the law restructuring the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products.”

The highlights of the amendments on Special and General Provisions are as follows:

  • Inclusion of “pre-disaster activities” in the utilization of the Quick Response Fund under the Department of National Defense-Office of the Secretary and the Office of the Civil Defense. As of now, the Quick Response Fund is utilized only as a standby fund for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.
  • Deletion of the Special Provision on “Funding Requirements for the filling of Unfilled Positions” which violates the provision on fiscal autonomy of Constitutional Offices including the Judiciary, all of which are allowed by the Constitution to use their savings in any item of their respective appropriations.
  • Inclusion of national roads and bridges, as well as school buildings among the infrastructure projects that may be funded under the hard allocation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund.
  • Amendment on the Use and Disbursement of Internal Revenue Allotment of LGUs, in particular, requiring them to post their utilization of the local disaster risk reduction and management fund in three (3) publicly accessible and conspicuous place.
  • New special provision under the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development earmarking P40 million for research projects on algae research and commercialization, precision farming, and smart agriculture.
  • New special provision under the Philippine Council for Industry Energy Research and Emerging Technology Research and Development earmarking another P40 million for research projects on disaster science and management, and responsible mining technologies.
  • New special provision under the Public-Private Partnership Center of the Philippines providing P630 million to augment the Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF), and another new provision stating that in addition to their appropriations, the PDMF fund, which is structured and to be managed and administered as a revolving fund, will have reimbursements of technical assistance fees directly from the winning bidder of the PPP project or from the implementing agencies.
  • New special provision under the E-Government Fund on the Funding for the Innovation Clusters, earmarking P50 million for research projects and activities for cloud computing and software-as-a service.
  • New special provision under the Unprogrammed Fund on the Universal Health Care Program amounting to P23.4 billion to cover the Philhealth premium of workers in the informal sector, health facilities enhancement program, preventive and promotive health programs, and policy and regulation standard, subject to the incremental revenue from the enactment of the law restructuring the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products.
  • Deletion of the General Provision on the Allocation for Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in Nationwide Projects which required that all national government projects requested by the Representative of the Congressional District shall be implemented by the ARMM Regional Government.

The committee is supporting the House proposal under the General Provisions specifying that authorized deductions from an employee’s salary, emoluments or other benefits shall in no case reduce the employee’s monthly net take home pay to an amount lower than Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000).

Drilon recalled that the Palace submitted to Congress for review and approval total new appropriations of P1,368.329 Billion.  

With Automatic Appropriations of P755.219 billion less the Unprogrammed Fund of P117.548 billion, Total Obligations will amount to P2.006 trillion.

Drilon said that The biggest share of 34.8 percent in the 2013 national budget will go to social services, while economic services is second with 25.5 percent. On the other hand, the share of debt-servicing burden will fall to 16.6 percent next year from 18.3 percent in 2012. General public services will have a 17.3 percent share while defense will get 4.5 percent.

"Our people’s education will continue to be the government’s top priority in the 2013 budget, as mandated by our Constitution.  Thus the Department of Education will remain as the agency with the highest budget allocation. Its budget will increase by 22.6 percent to P292.7 billion, from P238.8 billion this year. A P54 billion increase in funding will help address shortages in education resources such as classrooms, teachers and textbooks. It will also support the department's K+12 program," he said. 

Drilon noted that the DPWH is second with P152.9 billion, followed by the Department of National Defense (P121.6 billion), DILG (P121.1 billion), DA (P74.1 billion), DOH (P56.8 billion), DSWD (P56.2 billion), DOTC (P37.1 billion), DOF (P33.2 billion), and the DENR (P23.7 billion).

Malacanang’s budget is anchored on a real GDP growth rate of 6.0 to 7.0 percent, inflation rate of 3.0 to 5.0 percent, and the 364-day T-Bill rate also at 3.0 to 5.0 percent.  

Drilon said that the exchange rate is projected at P42 to P45 against the dollar, while crude oil prices are projected in the neighborhood of US$90 to $110 in 2012 as well as 2013.

For 2013, the national government plans to further trim the fiscal deficit to just 2 percent of GDP. 

Drilon further noted that to support the 2013 budget, the government will raise total revenues of P1.78 trillion. It also projects a 13.8 percent tax effort, up from an expected 13.3 percent in 2012. The government's total outstanding debt in 2013 will amount to P5.8 trillion or less than half of the GDP compared to a 54.8 percent debt to GDP ratio in 2009.