The disagreeing provisions of the House and Senate versions on the 2008 General Appropriations Bill “cannot be vanished instantly by a magic wand, neither are they so disparate nor untouchable by a ten-foot pole.”
This was the assessment made by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations and head of the House panel in the Bicameral Conference Committee on the budget measure, as he disclosed he would be meeting with his Senate counterpart, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, shortly after January 7, 2008 to forge a reconciled appropriations bill.
Lagman expects that much of the discussions would center on the following:
- Amount of cut or reduction in debt service;
- Total augmentations for basic services like education, health and social welfare and development, as well as for agriculture, infrastructure, environment, energy and national order and security; and
- Crafting of the necessary special provisions to assure the full implementation of the congressional realignments and augmentations.
Both Lagman and Enrile have been authorized by their respective panels to work out a compromise version before the resumption of sessions on January 28, 2008 for formal confirmation by the Bicameral Conference Committee and final ratification by the House and the Senate.