SENATE  UNDER  ENRILE  ENDORSES  PALACE  09 BUDGET  VERSION  OF  P1.415 T

MANILA, NOVEMBER 27, 2008
(STAR) By Aurea Calica - The Senate finance committee endorsed yesterday Malacañang’s version of the P1.415 trillion budget for 2009 with few realignments.

Senators vowed to conduct marathon hearings to pass the budget before the congressional break in December given the global financial crisis.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who primarily conducted the hearings on the budget as chairman of the finance committee, said the budget would be an “indispensable tool” that would help the country cope with the economic crisis afflicting many countries at this time.

The Department of Education received the highest allocation at P154.73 billion, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways at P112.34 billion.

The Department of Agrarian Reform will get P9.06 billion; Department of Environment and Natural Resources, P12.02 billion; and Department of Health, P27.2 billion.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said the budget allotments for these agencies had been significantly increased as they would be the source of jobs and livelihood for the people as the worldwide financial crunch is expected to worsen next year.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development’s budget was increased by a hefty 115 percent to reach P10.1 billion for poverty alleviation programs.

The Department of Agriculture received P3.6 billion allocation, up 55.9 percent from previous budgets, for rice self-sufficiency.

The Senate amendments to House Bill 5116, which has been passed by the Lower Chamber, include annual interest payments for debt service amounting to P300.97 billion, compared to P287.87 billion of the House of Representatives.

“On the whole, we brought the budget of the individual agencies back to the President’s budget level, except with certain realignments within agencies,” Enrile said in his sponsorship speech.

With respect to specific amendments, Enrile said the Senate earmarked P122 million out of the DA budget under the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Program to provide for research and development needs of various state universities and colleges specializing in agriculture and related courses.

The Senate also included P86.229 million increase in the budget of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. as additional subsidy for farmers.

It also gave the Philippine Science High School additional P111 million for two new campuses, while the Department of Foreign Affairs received an additional P850 million for new personnel in foreign service posts and regional consular offices to assist the growing number of overseas Filipino workers and provide funds for currency fluctuation.

The committee on finance also proposed new special provisions like the establishment of a computer database for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, the hiring of new teachers with majors in mathematics, sciences, and English, and the use of new and innovative housing technologies and materials by shelter agencies.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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