NIR BUDGET 2017 ON HOLD DUE TO FEDERALISM - ALBEE

The proposed P42 billion proposed budget for the newly- created Negros Island


REP. ALBEE BENITEZ

Region has been put on hold amid talks of a shift to federalism, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez (3rd district) said.

“My understanding is that President Duterte wants to hold it in abeyance”, Benitez said.

This is despite intense lobbying by top Negros island officials for the inclusion of the budget in the proposed 2017 national budget.

However, Benitez said that “all is not lost yet.”

He said that there is still a budget allocated for each congressional district of NIR.

The lobby for regular budgets for infrastructure projects and programs for every congressional district is still there, he pointed out.

Earlier, Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, met Tuesday with Budget Secretary Benjamen Diokno but failed to convince him to include the proposed NIR 2016 proposed budget in the national appropriation.

Benitez said that what will be directly affected are the budget for the setting up of regional offices of different departments of the national government.

Since we are now talking about federalism and a shift to another form of government, Benitez said “My understanding is that President Duterte wants to hold it in abeyance”, although he wants the NIR on status quo however the budget for the setting up of the regional offices will be put on hold.

Senior Board Member Salvador Escalante, an ally of the governor has proposed that the proposed budget for the NIR be reduced to half “to make it attractive to the national government.”

For Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, “it is a temporary set-back.”

“The question to be answered is, will NIR continue to exist. There is no indication that it won’t,” the vice governor said.

He said “as it is, NIR does not have its own budget, but it has been able to extablish different national agencies in Bacolod and Dumaguete cities.”

“I guess NIR will continue to get its budget from both Regions 6 and 7. Infrastructure projects will be delayed,” Lacson said.

Board Member Alain Gatuslao (5th district) said “there is still time to lobby for the insertion from now until the budget is submitted to Congress for approval. Hopefully, all provincial officials and congressmen will be successful in their efforts.”*

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