AUGUST 14, 2009
(PHILIPPINE STAR) By Paolo Romero - Malacañang has increased the proposed 2010 national budget to P1.54 trillion, eight percent or P115 billion higher than this year’s General Appropriations Act.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. added that next year’s deficit was pegged at 2.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or at P233 billion.

The current budget is P1.4 trillion. When it was enacted, the government was still hoping that it would have only a small deficit and a balanced budget in 2010.

However, this year’s fiscal gap is expected to widen at P250 billion.

“The budget’s strength and focus will remain on infrastructure, agriculture, and social spending,” Andaya told The STAR.

The final proposal is scheduled for submission on or before Aug. 27, or within the one-month deadline after President Arroyo delivers her State of the Nation Address.

The Department of Budget and Management last May issued a “budget call” for the 2010 national budget.

As expected, the increase in this year’s proposed national expenditure program was small due to uncertainties in revenue flows caused by the global economic crisis.

Normally, the “budget ceiling” is announced shortly after the “budget call.”

Amid the slight increase in the proposed national allocation for next year, Malacañang has set aside P1.2 billion to buy a brand new twin-engine presidential jet.

This was revealed in the Invitation to Apply for Eligibility and to Bid published in The STAR, where the Office of the President’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) has invited interested aircraft manufacturers and distributors to apply for eligibility and bid for one “Presidential Fixed-Wing Executive Jet.”

The notice stipulated the aircraft must be factory new, with two pressurized turbo-fan engines and equip-ped with avionics and instruments compliant with the standards of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The notice said presidential aircraft must be “fitted with Auxiliary Po-wer Unit and in VIP cabin configuration.”

“The type of aircraft to be offered should have been used as a VIP/Executive aircraft by the country of origin and by at least two countries,” the notice said.


Roxas fears re-enacted budget for 2010 (The Philippine Star) Updated July 31, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Manuel Roxas II said Malacañang might deliberately delay the submission of its proposed budget program for 2010 to force the re-enactment of this year’s budget from which some P300 billion in “rough savings” could be drawn and used for dubious purposes.

Roxas stressed a re-enacted budget is “dangerous” during election season. He said that from the P1.4-trillion budget this year, some P225 billion may be tapped for questionable uses.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. have also called on the Palace to submit its budget proposal as soon as possible so the Senate could hold hearings on the measure simultaneously with the House of Representatives.

Zubiri and Pimentel said with the election season and the filing of the certificates of candidacy by November, the passage of important measures might be sacrificed.

Zubiri said Congress only has two months of session and will go on a three-week break in November. By that time, lawmakers admit politicians will already be busy campaigning for the 2010 elections.

But Zubiri said the budget was very important because it could serve as economic stimulus for the country.

Zubiri said this was the reason why Sen. Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, was willing to conduct marathon hearings to finish the budget.

“We’re planning to start the hearings hopefully in August. The problem is Malacañang has not yet submitted the national budget. We are entering the election season and I believe the Comelec (Commission on Elections) has agreed already that the national conventions for political parties would start in October,” Zubiri said.

But Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. assured lawmakers that there would be no re-enacted budget for next year and said the Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC) would be able to meet the Aug. 27 deadline for the submission of the budget proposal. – Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero and Christina Mendez

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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