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House leader backs funding for IBC-13 under 2023 budget


House appropriations panel vice chairperson Stella Quimbo of Marikina on Tuesday backed funding for state-run Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. (IBC 13) because doing otherwise would only leave the government with unused assets.

Quimbo stated her position a few days before the House was expected to approve the proposed P5.26 trillion budget for 2023 on second reading by Friday, September 30.

Quimbo said that while the government had been looking to privatize IBC-13, the plan could not be put in motion unless its market value increases to at least P2 billion.

"The law states that the minimum sales proceeds from the privatization should be at least P2 billion. But as of now, IBC-13's value won't reach P2 billion. The proposal of our Press Secretary [Trixie Angeles] is to fund IBC so it can produce programs, raise its value and at a certain point, be viable for privatization with the government getting the P2 billion [proceeds from privatization]," Quimbo said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.

Quimbo said that based on her conversations with IBC-13 officials, the TV station would close down in six months if it remained unfunded under the proposed 2023 budget.

"Kung magsasara siya by June 2023, hindi mo siya mabebenta. You'll be left with stranded assets," Quimbo explained.

She added that IBC-13's receivables from advertisers or partners, like the Department of Education that provided content at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, were unlikely to cover IBC-13's operation costs.

Quimbo, however, noted that hope was not lost.

"There are some items na hindi namin maintindihan bakit may ganong klaseng expected spending. Kailangan daw halimbawa magbayad ng taxes on certain items pero sa tingin naman namin, tax exempt. Or number two, meron mga items na ang laki ng appropriation, pero based on historical performance, hindi naman talaga naa-absorb ng agency yung ganoong kalaking pondo all in one year," Quimbo added.

(There are items on expected spending for paying taxes but we think these should be tax-exempt. Likewise, there are items with huge appropriations but based on historical performance, the agency has low absorptive capacity for a huge allocation.)

Press Secretary Angeles had earlier asked the House appropriations panel to earmark funds for IBC-13's operations, noting that its current market value stood below P100 million. — DVM, GMA News

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