Provincial Board starts marathon hearings for 2018 budget

THE Provincial Board of Negros Occidental started on Monday the deliberations on the proposed P3.546-billion annual budget for 2018.

Those who appeared in the first day of the budget hearing include the heads or representatives of the departments and divisions under the Governor’s Office, Provincial Administrator’s Office, and Provincial Health Office.

Second District Board Member Salvador Escalante Jr., chairman of committee on appropriations, budget, finance, ways and means, said these are among the major departments in the Capitol.

He said the first day of hearing ran smoothly since there were no further discussions due to the reduced allocation of maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) for next year.

This is to make way for the implementation of the third tranche of the Salary Standardization Law 4, which is on January 2018, he said.

Escalante said they are only discussing the current status of the remaining MOOE budget of the concerned offices.

“During budget hearings, the departments defend why there is an increase in their budget in the MOOE, or why they weren’t able to spend the allotted appropriation,” Escalante said, but since the budget for MOOE was reduced for next year, there was no debate.

The board member added that the supplemental budget will take care of the reduced items.

The budget hearings Tuesday will be held for the departments under the committees on finance, trade and industry, laws, health and human resource while the final hearing on November 23 will be for the committees on trade and industry, agriculture, livelihood, trade and industry.

Escalante said they will hold a budget hearing on Wednesday if there’s no request for committee hearing from the august body.

He said he is expecting to submit the committee report next week while the budget proposal is expected to be tackled for second reading on the first week of December.

Escalante said they are looking to pass the 2018 annual budget by mid-December.

Of the proposed budget, P2.024 billion will be allocated to the General Fund, P1.456 billion to the Hospital Operations Department (HOD), and P66.286 million to the Economic Enterprise.

The budget proposal for next year is 12 percent higher compared to this year’s budget, which is P3.154 billion.
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