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Monday, March 4, 2024

Congress sets budget OK for signing into law by Dec.

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Lawmakers expect President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will be able to sign the 2023 budget into law by mid-December, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said over the weekend.

Angara, head of the Senate committee on finance, said the budget bill is set to be passed by late November, following plenary debates in November.

Angara said they hope to strengthen the health sector and the health system, particularly the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), which has been affected by the budget cuts to the University of the Philippines system to which it belongs.

He also said lawmakers would focus on marginalized sectors that suffered most from the COVID-19 pandemic and would also push to support entrepreneurs through credit programs.

The proposed P5.628-trillion budget was submitted to the House of Representatives in August, with deliberations targeted to be completed before October.

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The Senate begins its budget hearings on Sept. 13.

Angara said he hopes to finish committee hearings in early to mid-October. This will be followed by plenary debates set for early to the middle of November.

The House of Representatives led by Speaker Martin Romuldez is likewise on schedule to pass the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget bill next month, the lower chamber’s appropriations panel chair Rep. Elizalde Co said last week.

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said administration priorities, based on the National Expenditure Plan, are education, infrastructure, health, agriculture, and social safety nets.

She said the Department of Budget and Management has identified the priority sectors in the 2023 NEP, which is 4.9 percent higher than this year’s budget.

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