'Actively participate,' Romualdez asks House colleagues on day 1 of budget deliberations

Speaker Martin Romualdez has advised his House of Representatives colleagues to "actively participate" in the crafting of the 2023 national budget, the detailed deliberations of which was kicked off Friday morning, Aug. 26.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez (Facebook)

"I encourage every member of this august chamber to actively participate in crafting a General Appropriation Bill (GAB) that addresses the eight-point economic agenda stipulated in the medium-term fiscal framework of this administration," Romualdez said in a speech at the House plenary in front of Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) members.

“Foremost is to ensure food security by pouring in precise intervention to increase food production and reduce cost, in addition to lowering transport, logistics, and energy cost to protect the purchasing power of the consumers,” he stressed.

“Let's buckle down to work, and with a united front, we shall be able to deliver the necessary tools and resources to improve the lives of the Filipino people and uplift their hope for a better quality of life,” said Romualdez, who represents Leyte's 1st district.

The DBCC composed of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Secretary Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Governor Felipe Medalla of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) attended the first House budget deliberation Friday. The hearing is expected to last the whole day.

The heads of the different agencies of the bureaucracy will go to the House in the coming weeks to discuss their respective budgets with the solons.

The 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP) or proposed national budget is worth P5.268 trillion. The NEP serves as basis for the GAB.

“We will make sure that each bit of spending will contribute to our goal of reigniting the fires of our economic forges, and at least propel the country to reach economic growth at pre-pandemic levels,” Romualdez said.

“Every centavo of this national budget will be spent wisely to implement projects and programs putting primordial consideration into saving lives; building and protecting communities; and making our economy strong and more agile,” he vowed.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the country’s economy--as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP)--posted a stellar growth of 8.2 percent in the first quarter and 7.4 percent in the second quarter of 2022.

Romualdez called the Palace's spending proposal “a conservative budget, where fiscal discipline is harmonized with growth and recovery from the impact of the lingering Covid-19 pandemic".

“The challenges ahead of us may be daunting, and we shall rely on the brilliance of this administration's economic team to usher us in sustaining the economic progress achieved by its predecessor,” he added.