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House to approve P3.7-T budget this week

The House of Representatives is expected to approve on third and final reading tomorrow the P3.7-trillion national budget for 2018 as the Duterte administration embarks on a massive infrastructure program until 2022. AP/Aaron Favila, File

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is expected to approve on third and final reading tomorrow the P3.7-trillion national budget for 2018 as the Duterte administration embarks on a massive infrastructure program until 2022. 

“Barring any printing technical difficulties, we will consider on third reading the 2018 General Appropriations Bill on Tuesday, immediately following the roll call,” House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said. 

The House wants the General Appropriations Act (GAA) to be signed into law by President Duterte on Nov. 15.

 Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, chair of the House appropriations committee, gave assurance that the House leadership’s schedule is on track.   

Nograles made the statement following the full restoration of the budgets of the Energy Regulatory Commission (P650.9 million) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (P1.13 billion).

The Commission on Human Rights still suffered a P115-million budget cut as the House allocated only P508 million of the P678-million proposed budget for the CHR.

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Earlier, lawmakers drew flak for reducing the budgets of the CHR, ERC and NCIP to P1,000 each.

As the Duterte administration embarks on a massive infrastructure program, tycoons eye big-ticket infrastructure projects for local government units outside of Metro Manila.

Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur said the Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF) managed by the Public-Private Partnership Center caught the attention of the Ayala Corp., Gotianun-led Cyberzone Properties Inc. and the First Metro Investment Corp.

 The FMIC is a leading investment bank under the Metrobank Group of George Ty.

“These major infra projects implemented in partnership with the private sector would transform LGUs into engines of economic growth, which is the only way to disperse investments, create enough jobs, and spur inclusive growth in the regions,” Villafuerte said. 

“It will also open opportunities for private firms in search of new business locations and thereby foster a better environment for investments outside Metro Manila and other major urban centers,” he added. 

He said the Duterte administration’s planned “Golden Age of Infrastructure” entails P8.4 trillion to build the massive infrastructure until 2022.   

Villafuerte is the main author of House Bill 5805, which seeks to strengthen the PPP mode of financing large-scale government projects by expanding the composition of the PPP Board. 

 He has also proposed that the PDMF be extensively used to provide financial and technical support for LGUs during the preparation and monitoring phases of the projects. 

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