Angara expects speedy budget ratification
Manila (7 December) -- Attending the first meeting of the bicameral conference committee for the national budget, Senator Edgardo J. Angara today said he expects a quick ratification of the 2011 budget.
In an interview shortly before the first assembly, Angara stated that he fully anticipates the General Appropriations Act to be ratified before the end of the year as there were no major contentions between the two panels.
"I believe that with this kind of cooperation between the two houses, the budget would be adopted by the bicam soon. This is one of the few times that Congress wraps up the budget talks before the Christmas break," he said.
The bicameral conference serves as a forum to reconcile the Senate and Lower House versions of the budget. The first meeting was held at the Philippine Coconut Authority in Quezon City.
Present in today's conference for the Senate panel were Finance Committee Chair Franklin Drilon, vice-chairs Sen. Ralph Recto and Sen. Edgardo Angara as well as majority leader Sen. Vicente Sotto.
Asked about the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) P21-Billion Cash Transfer (CCT) program allocation which he initially opposed, Angara explained that the Senate approved the funding but with some fundamental revisions.
"We went along with the proposed P21-Billion, but we scrapped the CCT oversight committee that was initially suggested and instead recommended a tri-agency management of such a huge project. The implementation would now be handled by the DSWD, DepEd and DOH," he said.
Angara added that more funding has been re-channeled into science scholarships and grants, coming from the realignment of the Health department's P880 million family health program, of which only P8 million was earmarked for acquiring and distributing condoms.
"More or less 500 Million of the funding we cut from the program was realigned to provide more science scholarships for the undergraduate and graduate degree programs in our SUCs," said Angara, who heads the Senate Committee on Education, Culture and Sports. (COMSTE) [top]