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Bicam OKs 2024 national budget

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Bicam OKs 2024 national budget
Rep. Zaldy Co, chairman of the appropriations committee and head of the 12-man contingent of the House of Representatives, said that disagreeing provisions in House Bill 8980, or the 2024 General Appropriations Bill, have already been ironed out by the lawmakers from both chambers.
The STAR / Paolo Romero

MANILA, Philippines — Senators and congressmen comprising the bicameral conference committee of Congress approved yesterday the final version of the P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, where the “legacy” budget allocations of President Marcos have been outlined.

Rep. Zaldy Co, chairman of the appropriations committee and head of the 12-man contingent of the House of Representatives, said that disagreeing provisions in House Bill 8980, or the 2024 General Appropriations Bill, have already been ironed out by the lawmakers from both chambers.

The Ako Bicol party-list congressman said the spending bill for fiscal year 2024 was primarily focused on Marcos’ legacy for establishment of specialty hospitals – which he carried on from his late father – ensuring food security, and providing affordable housing for the marginalized sector.

Augmentations in the allocation to “fight inflation,” like the P5,000 per person “Ayuda sa Kapos sa Kita Program,” the continued 4Ps program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development along with its assistance to individuals in crisis situations, have also been made.

For food security, the House official said more allocations were given to the Department of Agriculture and its attached agency, National Irrigation Administration, with additional budgets of P25 billion and P60 billion, respectively.

Massive housing projects will also be now more affordable, according to Co, where monthly amortization will range from P3,500 to P2,500, with “zero interest.” A P10 billion “subsidy” fund has been poured into this project, he added.

Specialty hospitals will no longer be limited to Metro Manila, but will also be available in other regions and provinces, like the Bicol Regional Medical Center and other specialty centers in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.

“We also put up another P1 billion to the Philippine General Hospital, the National Kidney Center, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, National Cancer Center,” said Co.

The Senate also ratified the proposed P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, with allocations of P731.4 billion in the unprogrammed appropriations and an increase in the House of Representatives of P12.5 billion.

In less than five minutes, Senate and House of Representatives contingents concluded the second bicameral conference committee that tackled disagreeing votes for House Bill 8980 or the General Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2024.

Sen. Sonny Angara, the Senate finance committee chairman, said the bicam changed 16 provisions in the national budget, including the realignment of an additional P2 billion in the allocations for the Philippine Coast Guard and about P10 billion for the Department of National Defense to address not only the West Philippine Sea problems but any threat of terrorism and the security of the country. – Cecille Suerte Felipe

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NATIONAL BUDGET

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