Aquino signs P2.6-trillion 2015 budget

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the P2.606-trillion budget for 2015 on Tuesday, December 23, marking the 5th time it was readied on time.

Next year's General Appropriations Act (GAA) is higher than the 2014 P2.265-trillion budget of 2014.

Under the law, failure to pass the appropriations bill before the end of the fiscal year would mean a reenacted budget until Congress approves the bill. 

In the previous Arroyo administration, the government operated on a reenacted budget for at least 4 times. Under the Aquino administration, Congress has managed to pass the budget on time every year.

In his speech, Aquino gave assurances the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers has been removed from the budget, after the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional earlier this year.

"Patuloy din ang ating paninindigan: Wala na sa ating budget ang PDAF o Priority Development Assistance Fund, na naging instrumento ng pangungulimbat ng ilang mapagsamantala," he said. "Nang tumugon tayo sa panawagan ng taumbayan na tanggalin ang PDAF sa ating budget, natanggal natin ang raket ng ilang umaabuso sa sistema."

(Our conviction stays strong: The PDAF or Priority Development Assistance Fund is not in our budget, which became an instrument of corruption for those who look to take advantage. When we listen to the people to remove the PDAF from the budget, we also removed the schemes of those abusing the system.)

He vowed however that the fruitful projects previously funded by PDAF would continue to be financed.

Future projects

The President hailed the government’s Bottom-up Budgeting Program, which, he said, includes 1,590 municipalities which create their own initiatives funded by the government. He said P20.9 billion has been set aside for the project.

Other projects include the repair of all national roads by 2016, including 4,219 kilometers of road by 2015, P62.3 billion for the Social Welfare and Development’s Conditional Cash Transfer program, and the Department of Tourism’s goal to increase international tourist arrivals by 20%.

This Performance Enhance Budgeting, Aquino said, fulfills the promises made by the agencies to the county.

Aquino said the supplementary budget has also been approved which includes P10 billion for Yolanda reconstruction, with P7.99 billion set aside for the construction of permanent homes for those victimized by Super Typhoon Yolanda. – Rappler.com

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story, we erroneously stated that the DSWD will get P4.3 million for the Conditional Cash Transfer program. It is actually P62.3 billion, and the 4.3 million is the number of beneficiary families. Our apologies for the error.