Saturday, 19 December 2009

Congress ratifies 2010 budget


CONGRESS on Friday ratified a P1.540-trillion national budget for next year, with legislators raising the prospect of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signing the measure into law before the year ends.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said Mrs. Arroyo could ink the bill when she comes back next week from Copenhagen, Denmark where she is currently attending a global conference on climate change.

Malacanang, however, was noncommittal.

"We don't know the protocol yet. We have to wait for the President because there are certain procedures," Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary B. Olivar said.

By department, Education received the highest allocation at P185.48 billion, followed by Public Works, P126.93 billion; Health, P30.40 billion; Agrarian Reform, P20.77 billion, and Transportation and Communications, P16.61 billion.

"We intend to make this spending for 2010 designed to grow the economy," Senator Edgardo J. Angara told reporters.

Debt service payments were reduced to P276.21 billion from P340.82, with the funds realigned to infrastructure, education, and an environmental cleanup.

But Mr. Olivar said this would likely to be vetoed by Mrs. Arroyo.

"The President vetoes something like this every time Congress tries it.

This is because debt service is automatically appropriated, and any unbudgeted portion of debt service would simply increase our indebtedness by the same amount," he said in a text message.

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