Budgeting 101 for the Puzzled
Our budgetary system is patterned after that of the U.S., based on checks and balances among the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches and Constitutional Commissions. Government operations and quickly-completed projects are funded through the annual General Appropriations Act. Projects taking several years to complete are funded through Public Works Acts for specified years-they effectively authorize funding for government's infrastructure program for those years. Unlike General Appropriations that lapse at year-end, Public Works Appropriations are good multi-year.
The President transmits a Budget Message to the House of Representatives as basis of a General Appropriations Bill. After hearings and amendments, the approved House Bill is forwarded to the Senate, noting that the Legislature may reduce but not increase the President's proposal. The Bill approved by both Houses goes to the President who has the power to veto any item, a unique feature as the President otherwise approves or vetoes a Bill in toto, not selected provisions.
Fund releases for a year are in accordance with a budget program drawn from General and Public Works Appropriations. Since revenues normally fall short of amounts appropriated, the President (through the Department of Budget and Management) can withhold or delay fund releases.
Any Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or Pork-Barrel-like item (or any item, really) can be deleted or immobilized at any stage-budget preparation, legislation or implementation.
The national budget process begins with the estimation of revenues and expenditure commitments (e.g., debt service, retirement benefits, internationally-supported projects counterpart funding). Indicative budget ceilings are then established and announced to all agencies, i.e., Executive Departments (public works, education, health, agriculture, etc. …