House panel: We must ensure 2024 budget is effectively utilized

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday said the government and the House of Representatives needed to make sure the 2024 national budget was used effectively.

House Appropriations panel Chairman Zaldy Co of Ako-Bicol party-list and Senior Vice Chairperson Stella Quimbo of Marikina City made the call during the first day of House plenary deliberations on the proposed P5.768 trillion budget for 2024.

“This [budget] measure is the lifeblood of our government. It allocates funds to ensure that the government functions effectively. [But] it is equally important to monitor and address the capacity of government agencies to manage and complete projects,” Co said in his sponsorship speech.

“We must ensure that they have the required tools, resources, skills, and oversight to implement projects efficiently. Funds that are not effectively utilized or are underutilized, lead to project delays which hinder critical infrastructure and impede economic progress,” Co added.

Quimbo meanwhile said agencies needed to step up their budget utilization.

“GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth is slower than expected as a result of a contraction in government spending, typical of new administrations. Rest assured, the Committee on Appropriations has terminated all agency budget briefings with solid commitments from agencies to catch-up with their disbursement plans,” Quimbo said.

“While inflation has been higher than our initial targets, with decisive interventions by the Executive supported by this Congress, inflation targets should be within reach by the first semester of next year,” Quimbo added.

Co said that the House was looking to complete plenary deliberations and approve the P5.768 trillion proposed budget for 2024 within two weeks.

“This would allow senators ample time to craft its version of the budget and get a final version signed by [President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.] into law before Christmas Day,” he added.

Quimbo also said that of the P5.768 trillion proposed budget, P2.46 trillion would be funded by loans, while the remaining P3.308 trillion would be sourced from local income and revenues.

Of the P2.46 trillion, 75% would be borrowed from local sources, while 25% would be from foreign sources.

“We want to have more domestic [sources for loans] than foreign in a sense that we are able to manage the risk better,” explained Quimbo when questioned by Camarines Sur Representative Gabriel Bordado.

“[But] we also need to borrow from abroad because it will also mean taking advantage of the concessional loans from our development partners,” Quimbo added. — DVM, GMA Integrated News

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