GMA TO CUT LAWMAKERS' PORK IN 2010 BUDGET / DFA LAUDS OUTGOING KENNY
MANILA, JANUARY 15, 2010 (STAR) By Jess Diaz - President Arroyo would most likely slash the huge amount of “pork” senators and congressmen have inserted in her proposed P1.541-trillion 2010 budget, her spokesman for economic affairs hinted yesterday.
Gary Olivar told the Serye Café news forum in Quezon City that the President is considering a veto on the P65-billion debt payment reduction that lawmakers have made and which they diverted to their pork barrel.
“She wants to continue exercising fiscal prudence and responsibility. She does not want to expand the budget deficit,” he said.
“Because debt payments are automatically appropriated under the law, if you do not veto or reject the reduction in debt service funds, you will increase the deficit,” he said.
He added that Mrs. Arroyo has asked Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. to carefully study the final shape of the budget, particularly insertions made by lawmakers.
Asked why Malacañang is reviewing the 2010 budget only now, Olivar cited a delay in the budget’s submission to the Palace by Congress.
“As Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita has announced, we just received it on Wednesday (Jan. 13),” he said.
Last week, Speaker Prospero Nograles said the two-inch-thick budget document was to be sent to Malacañang on Jan. 7 or 8.
A bicameral conference committee chaired jointly by Senate finance committee chairman Edgardo Angara and his House counterpart Quirino Rep. Junie Cua drafted the final version of the budget.
Malacañang received the budget nearly a month after the Senate and the House approved the Angara-Cua committee report on Dec. 18.
It doesn’t usually take three weeks to print the budget document, even if it is about two inches thick. What delayed the printing process was the dirty job of hiding the lawmakers’ large pork barrel allocations all over the budget, which Cua’s staff was assigned to do.
The staff closeted itself at the House’s Mitra building even during the Christmas holidays to finish embedding such allocations in the budgets of scores of agencies, primarily the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The proposed spending bill that is presumably now on Andaya’s desk is vastly different from what the President submitted to Congress in August.
Of the P65-billion cut the Angara-Cua panel made in debt payments, P30.3 billion was given to the DPWH, the agency where most lawmakers’ funds are hidden. The department’s budget jumped to P126.9 billion from P96.6 billion as proposed by the President.
Kenney lauded (The Philippine Star) Updated January 15, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo commended outgoing US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, saying her achievements have been significant in strengthening the relationship between the Philippines and the United States.
During a farewell dinner Romulo hosted for Kenney last Monday at the Goldenberg Mansion, Romulo lauded Kenney’s achievements as Washington’s top diplomat in the country, such as the enhanced RP-US defense partnership, increased exchange of visits of Philippine and US officials, and the recognition of military service and granting of benefits to Filipino World War II veterans.
Romulo also cited Kenney’s assistance in the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Philippines last November. – Pia Lee-Brago
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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