Chairman of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Appropriations Board Member Juan Antonio Alvarez .| Photo from Sangguniang Panlalawigan FB Page.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan committee on appropriations is set to propose to the plenary a P4.2 billion budget for the year 2023, slightly lower than their approved budget for this year.

Board member Anton Alvarez, who is in charge of the appropriations committee, stated that the decrease in the budget of the provincial government was due to the low revenue collection of the national government in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“The revenue collection of the national government was low back in 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic, our National Tax Allotment (NTA) was affected kaya bumaba rin yung budget,” he said.

Alvarez said that the proposed budget for 2023 is not enough and will hurt the programs and operations of the provincial government.

“Bumaba ang budget natin for 2023 na P4.2 billion. This year [kasi] P4.7 billion. Talagang kulang. Wala naman tayong choice kundi ipagkasya dahil ito lang. Kung negatibong epekto, syempre may mga programa tayong made-delay kumbaga higpit sinturon muna, higpit higpit muna ng mga programa at sa mga department,” he said.

The committee chair also said that the meetings went well, even though some programs and priorities had to be changed.

“Wala naman naging problema. Sinigurado lang natin na nasa tama ‘yong paggagamitan ng budget. May mga nakita tayo na pwede i-adjust na program at mayroong mga priorities pero maliliit lang, hindi naman major. More or less ay seamless naman ang deliberation, kailangan lang talaga natin maisa isa para malaman kung tama,” he said.

Alvarez noted that the Provincial Social Welfare Development Office (PSWDO) will receive a large portion of next year’s budget due to the overwhelming requests for financial assistance received, the Provincial Engineering Office (PEO) for infrastructure projects, and the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

“Maayos naman ang naging deliberation, mabusisi at mahaba nga [kasi inabot] halos isang buwan. Bukod sa mga mandated ng batas tulad ng development fund, pinakamalaki ‘yong sa PSWDO natin kasi may mga humihingi ng tulong para doon sa mga nangangailangan lalo na rin sa hospital bills, kung itotal ay malaki talaga, sa engineering dahil sa mga projects natin hindi ko masyadong kabisado ang iba pa,” Alvarez said.

The provincial legislator hopes that the 2023 budget will be finalized and approved during next week’s regular session.

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