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Speaker Romualdez: Marcos to sign P5.678-T 2024 budget into law on Wednesday

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. is expected to sign the proposed P5.768 trillion budget for 2024 on Wednesday, House Speaker Martin Romualdez of Leyte said Monday.

“I think Wednesday…Wednesday is the signing [of the budget law]. In fact, he would have signed it before he left [for Japan], it is still in the printing process,” Romualdez said.

“There are printing requirements since there are lots of copies needed to be printed. But other than that, it’s ready, it’s ready to go,” he added.

Likewise, Romualdez said he is not expecting the President to reject or veto any provision, including the deletion of confidential fund allocation for civilian agencies, including the P500 million for the Office of the Vice President Sara Duterte.

“We’re not anticipating any. We followed parameters and we have been working closely with the OP (Office of the President) and all departments,” he said.

“Both Houses agreed upon it (deletion). In fact, the heads of the departments have agreed to it. They've voluntarily withdrew it. The President is of that mind that as much as possible to minimize the confidential fund of the civilian department or agencies and rather focus where, you know, where it’s best suited, such as security issues, defense [of our resources], ‘for Coast Guard, the West Philippine Sea,” he added.

Confidential funds

The deletion of the confidential funds for civilian agencies was initiated by the House after it was revealed in the plenary debates that the OVP, in 2022, was able to spend P125 million worth of confidential fund in 11 days based on Commission on Audit (COA) records.

The Senate ultimately heeded the House's call, although the ratified version of the budget had an increased amount for unprogrammed funds at over P700 billion.

The proposed P5.768 trillion budget for 2024 has earmarked P26.7 billion for expansion of government subsidies to near poor households.

The program, dubbed as the Ayuda sa Kapos ang Kita Program or AKAP, is eyeing to cover 12 million households. 

The office of House appropriations panel chairperson Zaldy Co, in a statement to GMA News Online, said the total funding for AKAP program is at P60 billion, with P26.7 billion already lodged under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) budget item for locally funded projects and the remainder under the unprogrammed fund.

Unprogrammed appropriations in the national budget are only funded by the following:  

  • excess revenue collection in any non-tax revenue sources from its corresponding revenue collection target as reflected in the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing
  • new revenue collection or those arising from new tax or non-tax sources which  are not part of, nor included in, the original revenue sources reflected in the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing and
  • approved loans for foreign-assisted projects 

The House and the Senate ratified the proposed P5.768 trillion budget last December 11. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News