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P14.5-B supplemental budget filed in the Senate

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon formally filed a bill that will authorize the executive to spend additional P14.5 billion for fiscal year 2013 and that will provide funds to repair various infrastructures, including P4 billion for school buildings, heavily damaged by recent calamities particularly super typhoon “Yolanda.”

The bill seeks to source the P14.5 Billion from the unspent Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations for 2013, which was recently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1938, the Senate chief emphasized the urgency to pass a supplemental budget to cover the costs of unforeseen expenses brought about by successive natural and man-made disasters that hit the country during the second semester.

“The damage caused by recent calamities requires intensified efforts for rehabilitation, repair and construction of severely damaged infrastructure, buildings and facilities in order to accelerate recovery,” said Drilon. “Our people urgently need the augmented support of the government for rehabilitation.”

With just five weeks left in the legislative session, Drilon pointed out the necessity for the Congress to expedite the passage of the bill as the current General Appropriations Act will expire by December 31.

As with the national budget, the supplemental budget is an appropriation measure which should originate, but Drilon said: “given the urgency of providing funds to the rehabilitation or reconstruction efforts, we in the Senate can already start consultations on the proposed supplemental budget, while waiting for the certification of the national treasurer as to the availability of funds and for the House to pass and transmit to the Senate its version of the measure.”

In his proposed supplemental budget, P2.75 billion and P1.25 billion will go to the Department of Education and state universities and colleges, respectively, for the repair and rehabilitation of school and academic buildings.

Likewise, P3 billion is allotted for the Department of Public Works and Highways to repair roads, bridges and other government infrastructure and another P1.5 billion for the restoration of declared historical sites which were damaged specifically by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Visayas region.

The supplemental budget will also cover expenses for the repair of hospitals amounting P1 billion and purchase of hospital equipment amounting P500 million through the Department of Health. The National Housing Authority, on the other hand, will receive P1.5 billion for the purchase of relocation sites and construction of housing units.

Lastly, the supplemental budget will provide P1 billion to the Department of Transportation and Communications to repair airports and ports and P1 billion to the local government units to repair rural health centers and fund other rehabilitation programs.#

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