Senate receives budget bill from House
Manila (11 November) -- The proposed 2011 national budget has moved further, with the Senate receiving the budget measure on Tuesday as approved by the House of Representatives on third reading last November 8.
Next year's proposed P1.645 trillion outlay is expected to be taken up on the floor in today's Senate session and be referred to the Senate Finance Committee, said Senator Franklin Drilon, committee chairman.
"We will see how the House modified the budget, then we will prepare a committee report to be reported out in plenary," Drilon said.
He said marathon plenary sessions will be held until next week to facilitate the budget bill's passage and incorporate proposed amendments by the senators.
The Senate will conduct morning session from November 24-December 1 to hear House Bill 3101, he said, as he assured the passage of House Bill 3101 before lawmakers go on a holiday break on December 18.
Session will run until December 18, and lawmakers will go on a month-long holiday break. Session will resume anew on January 17 next year.
"We proposed to have the budget approved simultaneously on second and third reading by December 1," said Drilon, adding that a bicameral conference committee will be convened on December 6 to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget measure.
The House of Representatives had approved its version of the budget on third reading last November 8.
"We target December 13 for the ratification of the bicameral conference committee report and submit it to the President for signing afterwards," he said, adding that the government will have an operational budget by January.
Drilon, meanwhile, expects protracted debates for the P21 billion appropriated for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to be implemented by the Social Welfare department as direct subsidies to 2.3 million households in 2011 from 1 million household beneficiaries this year.
Drilon said the amount will be released in tranches. "I am sure if in the course of the year the DSWD could not absorb or disburse the tranches, then it is not automatic that the next tranche would be the same."
The proposed 2011 budget increased by P104 billion or 6.8% higher than the P1.54 trillion 2010 budget. Next year's outlay, however, represents 18.2% of gross domestic product, lower than the 18.5% share this year.
By sector, social services will be the premier sector in line with President Aquino's priorities to provide more for the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of the society, as a hefty P517.9 billion or 31.5% of the budget is allocated to it.
Debt service interest payments cornered P372.1 billion or 22.6% of the budget pie, and economic services, P365.5 billion or 22.2% of the budget.
A total of P287.9 billion or 17.5% is allocated to general public services, while P101.6 billion or 6.2% for defense. (Office of Sen. Franklin Drilon) [top]