Philippine House approves US$22.5 billion budget for 2007; Senate to vote soon

(AP) MANILA, Philippines The Philippine House of Representatives on Friday approved a 1.13 trillion peso (US$22.5 billion; €18 billion) budget for 2007, with the largest share slated to go to education and public works.

House Speaker Jose de Venecia expressed hope the measure would soon be approved by the Senate, an opposition bastion that has stalled key bills, including this year’s budget, forcing the government to operate on an re-enacted 2005 budget.

Part of the reason is the time and effort that lawmakers have spent wrangling over two impeachment efforts in the last two years over allegations that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo rigged the 2004 elections. Arroyo has denied the charges and both impeachment bids were thrown out on a technicality.

The 2007 budget proposal will help reduce the 125 billion peso (US$2.5 billion; €1.9 billion) deficit target and provide funding for most of Arroyo’s social and economic reforms, de Venecia said.

The Department of Education would receive the biggest allocation of 132.9 billion pesos (US$2.6 billion; €2 billion), followed by the Public Works Department.

The budget proposal has a parallel program to collect about 1.2 trillion pesos (US$24 billion; €19 billion) in government revenue.

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