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Budget realignments dismissed as insignificant

PHILSTAR FILE PHOTO

THE adjustments to the budget bill following its initial passage by the House of Representatives are minor and failed to touch discretionary items like confidential or intelligence funds, analysts said.

Terry L. Ridon, a public investment analyst, said via chat that the amount realigned accounts for little more than 1% of the total budget.

“The budget augmentation for public and social services could have been more if Congress reduced the funding for discretionary items,” he added.

The People’s Budget Coalition considers the adjustments “incremental,” according to Zyza Nadine M. Suzara, executive director of coalition member I-Lead. She added via chat that “there is still a need to revisit the budget priorities.”

She noted that the programs that received “relatively significant boosts in the (General Appropriations Bill) that were passed by the House of Representatives include items where soft projects of legislators are lodged… There can still be changes in bicameral conference committee.”

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. asked for a P4.5-billion budget for confidential and intelligence funds.

Hansley A. Juliano, a former political science professor, said via chat that the realignments could be a means of saving face after negative developments like the failure to confirm key administration officials or the backlash against Mr. Marcos arising from his decision to attend the Singapore Grand Prix.

Analysts noted that budget items remain subject to Presidential veto.

On Oct. 5, a House of Representatives panel working on amendments after the GAB was approved authorized an additional P77.5 billion for the 2023 budget, with augmented allocations for health, education, transportation, and other social services. In the form approved by the House plenary, the GAB outlined a spending plan of P5.268 trillion.

The additional allocations were realigned from programs that can be implemented in later years. — Kyanna Angela Bulan

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