President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent the proposed PHP3.767-trillion national budget for 2018.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, President Duterte cited the “necessity” of the immediate enactment of House Bill No. 6215 or the 2018 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).
A copy of the letter was shared by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas in a message thread with House reporters on Tuesday.
With the presidential certification, the Lower House can now speed up the approval of the measure.
Duterte said the bill’s passage would ensure “budgetary preparedness” to enable the government to perform its constitutional mandate.
Furthermore, the approval of the proposed 2018 budget could help “maintain continuous government operations” and “expedite the funding” of various programs and projects for the next fiscal year, Duterte noted.
The House is expected to approve the GAB on second reading on Tuesday.
“We will only approve it on 2nd reading tonight and on 3rd reading when it will already be printed with all the amendments, which will take a week or two,” Fariñas said.
House appropriations committee chair Karlo Alexei Nograles said the proposed 2018 allocation is anchored on five core principles, namely: credible and disciplined fiscal policy; equitable progress and social order; reflective of fiscal policies; strengthening accountability and transparency; and enhancing partnership with local governments.
Nograles said next year’s budget will finance the most urgent priority programs that reduce inequality, strengthen the foundation for sustainable development, increase the country’s growth potential, and enhance governance.
The proposed budget for next year is 12.4 percent higher than the PHP3.35 trillion budget for 2017 and represents 21.6 percent of the gross domestic product.
It is expected to be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on or before November 15.
The education sector will get the biggest chunk of the budget with a funding of PHP691.1 billion, higher by PHP41.7 billion compared to 2017. (PNA)