House to receive biggest NEP in history as budget season starts

The budget season official starts on Monday, Aug. 22 at the House of Representatives as the 311-strong chamber is set to receive the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for the year 2023.

Speaker Martin Romualdez (Speaker's office)

The proposed national budget from the executive branch, dubbed the National Expenditure Program (NEP), is the biggest in the country’s history.

The NEP serves as the precursor of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), which the House members will file in the coming weeks. Once enacted or turned into a law, the GAB will be called the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Enacting the national budget on time is the first and most important task of lawmakers during any given year or regular session. The budget measure is prioritized over everything else and is usually the subject of marathon hearings by the House Committee on Appropriations, which will do much of the scrutinizing of the NEP.

Eager to prove their worth as legislators are the House members of the 19th Congress, headed by their Speaker, Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez. The veteran solon will lead a chamber that's 50 percent composed of either neophyte or returning solons.

The executive branch, through Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, will submit the NEP to House officials in a turnover ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday at the social hall of the speaker’s office.

Romualdez, Majority Leader Manuel Jose "Mannix" Dalipe, Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan, House Committee on Appropriations chairman and Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co and his senior vice chairperson, Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo will be on hand to received the document, which the first full one-year outlay of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Under the Constitution, the President “shall submit to the Congress within 30 days from the opening of every regular session, as the basis of the a budget of expenditures and sources of financing, including receipts from existing and proposed revenue measures".

Part of the President’s submissions is his budget message to lawmakers and the nation.

The budget and its accompanying documents are submitted to the House and not the Senate beecause the Constitution provides that “all appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments".

However, the Palace has traditionally been furnishing the Senate copies of its budget submissions on the day that it presents them to the House.

The proposed budget for next year is P244 billion or almost five percent more than this year’s P5.024-trillion outlay.

House leaders have vowed to finish committee and plenary deliberations on the budget proposal before Oct. 1, when Congress (House and Senate) is scheduled to go on its first recess that will last up to Nov. 6.

“Last Congress, we did it, we were able to beat the Sept. 30 deadline. We gave all members of the House time to deliberate, interpellate intelligently on all departments,” Dalipe told a news forum last week.

“The budget process starts here and we want to give all House members time to scrutinize the proposed budget. I can confidently say that we can make the Sept. 30 deadline,” he said.

After Monday, the House members are expected to review the NEP in preparation for a briefing by the Development and Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).