MANILA – The country’s “pork-less” and “DAP-less” P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015 is all set for ratification this week.
“The Senate will ratify tomorrow, Dec. 15, the bicameral conference committee report on the 2015 budget. It will be sent to PNoy for signature before Dec. 25,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said.
Confirming the schedule, Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte said that the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) will finally be ratified on Wednesday.
He added that the final version, once ratified, will be singed into law by President Aquino before the year ends.
“The bicameral report on the 2015 budget will be ratified on Wednesday,” Belmonte said in a separate interview.
After the ratification on Wednesday, the lawmakers are set to adjourn for a month-long Christmas break.
Meanwhile, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab, gave an assurance that the lawmakers will ratify the “very detailed, 4,000-page” 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) on Monday.
The senate also gave the same assurance via a statement from Senator “Chiz” Escudero.
Following controversies on the definition of several terms including “savings,” the panel assured that the definition in the version approved by the committee are complying with the July 1, 2014 decision of the Supreme Court.
In the decision, the Court strike down some key provisions of the Aquino government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The 2015 GAB provides that savings refer to “portions or balances of any released appropriations in this act which have not been obligated as a result of any of the following:
– Final discontinuance or abandonment of an ongoing program or project (P/A/P) by the head of the agency concerned due to causes not attributable to the fault or negligence of the said agencywhich would not render it possible for the agency to implement the said P/A/P during the validity of appropriations.
– Non-commencement of the P/A/P for which the appropriations is released. For this purpose, non commencement shall refer to the inability of the agency or its duly authorized procurement agent to obligate the released allotment and implement the P/A/P due to natural or man-made calamities or other causes not attributable to the fault or negligence of the agency concerned during the validity of the appropriations.
– Decreased cost resulting from improved efficiency during the implementation or until, the completion by agencies of their P/A/Ps, provided, that the agencies will still be able to deliver the targets and services as approved in this Act.
– Difference between the approved budget for the contract and the contract award price.
Meanwhile, the panel also decided that ”savings may likewise refer to available balances of appropriations arising from unused compensation and related costs pertaining to: unfilled, vacant or abolished positions; non-entitlement to allowance and benefits; leaves of absence without pay; and unutilized pension and retirement benefits arising from death of pensioners, decrease in the number of retirees, or other related causes.”
Comparing the figures, this year’s P2.265 trillion budget is 15 percent or P341 billion lower than next year’s.