Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian today urged the Aquino administration to put in place measures that would streamline the process of spending next year’s P3.002-trillion national budget in order to provide the public the services they deserve.
“The spending of the P3-trillion budget is a big challenge to the government. There remain numerous bottlenecks in the system,” said Gatchalian, a former three-term mayor of Valenzuela City whose administration was given the Seal of Good Housekeeping and the Best Governed Highly-Urbanized City Award by the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Gatchalian advised: “The government should streamline the process before it can maximize this P3-trillion budget. Or else it will just lead to underspending again.”
The lawmaker, who is a majority member of the House Committee on Local Government, said streamlining is necessary “to effectively use the national appropriation so the rendering of public services such as infrastructure, health, and education will not be delayed.”
“Spending the budget efficiently on projects and programs that are most needed will allow the public to feel that their taxes are working for them and that the benefits of economic growth are trickling down even to the most indigent,” said Gatchalian.
“This will help win back the trust of our citizens who have been fed up with the way our state coffers are being managed,” he added.
Gatchalian recalled that even the International Monetary Fund called on the government to pass an organic public finance management law to make the rules clear. The Department of Budget and Management has already drafted a measure consolidating the rules and processes of public finances following issues on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
In relation to this, the Valenzuela City congressman again urged the government to prioritize higher education the same way it does to basic education by making states universities and colleges (SUCs) tuition-free to all students.
House Bill No. 5905, to be known as the “Free Higher Education Act”, seeks to cover all Filipino citizens who are either enrolled at the time of this bill’s enactment or any time after.
Gatchalian said providing for free college education in state-run universities will allow the country to produce more scientists and engineers who can contribute to innovation, research, and development of new products, which in turn generate employment and benefit the whole economy in the long-run.
“Fully subsidizing higher education in SUCs is possible given the country’s good economic performance, the improving tax collection, and the unused allocation for infrastructure,” said Gatchalian, who is a member of the House Committees on Basic Education and Culture and on Higher and Technical Education.
Under Gatchalian’s proposal, an initial amount of P10.5 billion shall be initially appropriated from the Presidential Social Fund to implement the “Free Higher Education Act”. (Monica Cantilero)