PALACE:  NO NEED  FOR  MORE  'PORK'  FOR  20  POOREST  PROVINCES

MANILA, November 26, 2004
(STAR)
Lawmakers from the 20 poorest provinces do not need a larger pork barrel as the government has already lined up infrastructure projects for their districts, Malacañang said yesterday.

Silvestre Afable, presidential adviser for communications, told reporters the government has always given priority to the 20 poorest provinces in development programs.

"There are government programs that are focused on the 20 poorest provinces, and if the congressmen want resources to be focused on these provinces, I think it is easy for them to get help from the Cabinet and Malacañang because the priority of the executive branch is the 20 poorest provinces in the country," he said.

The other day, 26 congressmen from the poorest provinces signed a resolution asking that a special fund be allocated in the pork barrel for their districts.

"Equitable and preferential allocation" is the most effective way to fight poverty, insurgency, illiteracy and crime in depressed areas, the lawmakers added.

Some 117 congressmen have also asked for the return of each of their pork barrels to the P70 million level before it was reduced to P40 million.

The cut was made in response to President Arroyo’s call for sacrifices to try to solve the widening budget deficit.

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. told congressmen that the full amount of their pork barrels would be given them if they pass the eight tax bills of Mrs. Arroyo.

The administration expects some P80 million in additional revenue once the bills are passed into law.

Congress was able to enact only two of the eight bills. — Marvin Sy


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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