Smooth sailing for 2018 budgets of several agencies

The House of Representatives readily terminated the plenary interpellation on the proposed 2018 budgets of several government agencies after nobody grilled their sponsors during the floor deliberations.

Interpellation on the proposed budgets of the following agencies were immediately terminated since no one wished to raise questions to Rep. Mark Aaron Sambar (Party-list, PBA) who sponsored their proposed budgets: National Youth Commission (NYC); Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA); Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP); Games and Amusement Board (GAB); Philippine Racing Commission (PHILRACOM); National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC); Cooperative Development Authority (CDA); National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF); Philippine Commission on Women (PCW); and Philippine Competition Commission (PCC).

The House also approved the budget of the scandal-rocked Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) but only in the amount of P1,000 as sponsored by Rep. Celso Lobregat (1st District, Zamboanga City). The ERC has a proposed budget of P365 million.

Likewise, Rep. Joselito Atienza (Party-list, Buhay) said while he is not against the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) budget, he wanted to know if Congress needs to augment it in view of the country's performance in the recent Southeast Asian Games which was held in Malaysia.

Sambar assured that the PSC is committed to discuss with the National Sports Association to work out a proper plan towards attaining the country's competitiveness in international sports competitions.

Earlier in the day, House members inquired about the budgets of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Rep. Harry Roque, Jr. (Party-list, Kabayan) inquired about the number of plantilla positions approved by the DBM for 2018. He said the DBM should create more positions especially for engineers in light of the massive Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration.

The figure should be about 10,000 positions because of the Build, Build, Build projects, said Roque.

Committee on appropriations chairman Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) said 172 plantilla positions, particularly for engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), were created.

Nograles also assured during the interpellation by Minority Leader Danilo Suarez that the Duterte administration does not practice underspending. He said the expenditures of all government agencies are being closely and strictly monitored.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Go (Lone District, Baguio City) queried during the NEDA budget deliberation about the outstanding debt of the country.

Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd District, Albay), senior vice chairman of the committee on appropriations, cited that the total national debt is P6.4 trillion, one of the lowest foreign debts in the world.

He explained that foreign borrowing is important in funding investments now which will be beneficial to the people in the future.

Source: House of Representatives

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