Palace eyes lower 2015 budget for Congress

By Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 01 2014 10:03 AM | Updated as of Feb 01 2014 06:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is eyeing a lower budget for next year for the two chambers of Congress, which has already lost its annual P25-billion lump-sum pork barrel.

Based on the 2015 “indicative“ appropriation ceilings set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for state agencies, funding for Congress would go down by P376 million, from P10.742 billion this year to P10.366 billion.

The budget of the House of Representatives would decrease by P159 million, from P6.625 billion to P6.466 billion, while the Senate outlay would fall from P3.344 billion to P3.104 billion, or by P240 million.

The Palace is proposing to increase the appropriation for the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) from P87.052 million this year to P132.6 million next year despite the fact that it has no election protest to resolve until the next national vote in 2016.

In July last year, in his 2014 budget proposal, President Aquino recommended P126.7 million for SET for this year. However, Congress cut this by nearly P40 million.

SET’s remaining budget of P87 million will be for salaries, allowances, travel expenses, and other perks of its members, officers and personnel.

The Senate tribunal is composed of three justices led by Antonio Carpio and six senators. Each member receives about P120,000 a month in allowances.

For the Commission on Appointments, the DBM has set an indicative budget limit of P514.6 million, down from P538.5 million this year; while funding for the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) would go up slightly from P148 million to P148.6 million.

Unlike the Senate tribunal, the HRET has more than 30 election protests to resolve.

In his 2014 budget proposal, Aquino had pushed for P10.021 billion for the two chambers of Congress, their electoral tribunals and the Commission on Appointments.