Bicam approves 2.264T 2014 Budget

SENATE - on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, the Bicameral Conference (Bicam) Committee finally achieved truce despite contentious provisions embedded in the 2014 General Appropriation Bill (GAB). The Bicam Report on the 2014 Budget needs to be ratified by the Senate and House of Representatives before it is sent to the President for signature.

SENATE - on Tuesday, December 10, 2013, the Bicameral Conference (Bicam) Committee finally achieved truce despite contentious provisions embedded in the 2014 General Appropriation Bill (GAB). The Bicam Report on the 2014 Budget needs to be ratified by the Senate and House of Representatives before it is sent to the President for signature.

The onslaught of public fund scams heeded the community’s call to allow a transparent, open-to-the-public, Bicameral Conference Committee on the government’s budget deliberation. Despite attempts of transparency, under the table negotiations were already done prior to yesterday’s hearing in numerous technical working groups.  

With the removal of the controversial PDAF, the proposed budget for 2014 is much lower than the House version due to the removal of the PDAF allocations of 15 Senators and the Vice President. Both Houses’ budgets were also restored to their 2013 allocation.

Moreover, the approved budget will be compliant with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010. The newly renamed Calamity Fund which may be used for pre-disaster activities, under the NDRRM Fund, increased from this year’s allocation of P7.5 Million to P13Billion. The budget also includes a P100 Billion reconstruction and rehabilitation fund for those affected by disasters in the past two years, including the Zamboanga City siege. The DOTC and the DOH were also given P300M and P500M respectively for their Quick Response Funds (QRF) to better respond to Health, Transportation, and Communications problems during disasters.

The recent Supreme Court Decision declaring the PDAF unconstitutional pushed for the Bicam to remove all provisions that mandate post-enactment intervention by legislators in the GAB. On the other hand, Sen. Francis Escudero said that the Congress will activate the Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures in accordance to the Congress’ oversight functions to monitor the budget’s implementation.

The 16th Congress aims to pass a timely, annual Budget to avoid a reenacted budget that was much frequent during the Arroyo Administration.

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