2011 budget hit for ‘scrimping’ on basic services

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today slammed the proposed P1.645-trillion national budget that was passed by the Senate Wednesday night, saying the skewed priorities of the very first general appropriations bill under the Aquino administration may not sit well with the rest of the Filipino people.

“It is unfortunate that the very first budget that looms to be approved under this new administration will be remembered by Filipinos for scrimping on allocations for public tertiary education and hospitals, as well as for agriculture and vital public infrastructure,” said Cayetano, who voted against the budget measure on third reading, along with minority leader Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

The lady senator also expressed serious reservations about allocating a huge chunk of taxpayers’ money to the controversial Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program of the five-month-old Aquino administration. “Although I support the concept of a subsidy program for the poor, the P21 billion alloted to the CCT is too large an amount to invest in an untested program.”

She cautioned Malacanang against the dire implications of its apparent policy to hold back budget increases for state universities and colleges (SUCs) and public tertiary hospitals, while forcing these institutions to generate revenues on their own.

“The Palace should be clear-cut and transparent in its long-term plans for public education and health. Forcing SUCs and government hospitals to be ‘self-sufficient,’ while at the same time freezing their budgets, may result in poor delivery of basic social services,” stressed Cayetano, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

“This policy direction may end up to be more anti-poor and anti-development than pro-poor and pro-development,” she warned. #

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