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COCKTALES | Proposed NIA budget boosted 28x - and NCR gets bigger irrigation budget than C. Luzon!

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Engineer Florencio Padernal was appointed administrator of the problematic National Irrigation Authority just last month but his office's P1-billion 2014 budget can already expect a whopping P28 billion budgetary boost from Malacanang by next year.

Out of that P28 billion, a total of P9.8 billion in irrigation funds have been allocated - this is not a misprint - for Metro Manila.

The allocation for the National Capital Region, according to the 2015 budget submitted to Congress by Secretary Florencio Abad, is even bigger by a billion than the proposed P8.8 billion irrigation funding for the rice granary that is Central Luzon.

Before NIA's budgetary pole-vault, no less than PNoy had publicly expressed his displeasure over the agency's performance, replacing its director Claro Maranan and directing Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan to "clean up" the agency.

Not content, PNoy also had the NIA removed from the Department of Agriculture and attached the agency under the Office of the President, under Pangilinan's supervision, along with the National Food Authority, Philippine Coconut Authority, and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.

The new NIA administrator will even have greater flexibility in running his office since the agency's general administration and support fund will be increased to P1.6 billion from this year's P54.4 million, even though the NIA has not been authorized to hire any new personnel for next year.

Another agency transferred to Pangilinan, the Philippine Coconut Authority, will see its 2015 budget grow to over P4 billion from this year's P2.3 billion.

On the mass transport front, there are a couple of good tidings for as well.The capital-short Light Rail Transit Authority, in a welcome change, will get an additional P1.5 billion funding from the P1.3 billion the transit operator received in 2013.

And the Philippine National Railways management will have an extra room to maneuver with its 2015 budget being increased to P546 million from P344 million this year.

Other government corporations that have managed to win additional funding from Malacanang include the People's Television Network and Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority.

The ailing Channel 4 will receive a P133-million infusion in its 2015 budget from the current P759 million just to achieve a target 5 percent audience share ratings a year before the 2016 elections.

The Aurora free port zone, on the other hand, will see its 2015 budget jump to P251 million from this year's P48.5 million. It has also obtained approval to hire 13 more personnel.

Over at the medical front, Malacanang has stepped up its pressure for the specialized hospitals to increase self-sufficiency and make money like the private sector by further reducing budgetary support to the medical centers.

The Lung Center of the Philippines, for instance, will see its current support reduced from P203 million to P186.7 million by next year.

And National Kidney and Transplant Institute, which received a substantial P1.27 billion outlay in 2013, already saw its budget allocation reduced this year to P229 million, before the Abad department decided to increase its lifeline to P429 million by 2015.

With the rank-and-file going out to the streets to protest, the Philippine Childrens' Medical Center will see next year a P21 million increase in its budget that has been frozen for two years. Rather than finance capital outlay, the modest hike with go to fund the additional hiring of 82 hospital workers.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Heart Center's budget, like an irregular heart beat, will see its proposed 2015 budgetary allocation going down to P346 million from P402 million this year, after increasing from P246.6 million in 2013.

And probably because of the increased acceptance of alternative medicine, the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care will see its budgetary support gain by a minimal P200,000 next year to P50 million.

The PNoy administration also can not expect to win brownie points from the two other vocal sectors in this town, economists and performing artists.

The economics profession's funding agency, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, will see a figurative arm cut with its next year's budget slashed to P33 million, coming from a black swan-windfall of P346-million that PIDS received this year.

The dismal profession will all the more be unhappy since the 2015 budget proposal, not factoring inflation and the additional 19 staff, is P4 million less than what PIDS actually received in 2013.

Even their regulatory colleagues at the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. will have to endure a fair amount of budgetary discipline, with PDIC's 2015 budgetary support drastically going down to P116 million by next year from this year's P2.7 billion. 

Over at the performing arts front, the already cash-starved Cultural Center of the Philippines will see its 2015 funding shrivel by P51 million from this year's P244 million.

For its last full-year in office, the PNoy administration is proposing to extend the premiere cultural agency a P193-million budgetary assistance, a figure much lower than what the CCP received in 2009, the last full year of the GMA administration, when the anti-GMA cultural board obtained P241.79 million allocation from the reviled president.

Even CCP's neighbor, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions will see its 2015 budget cut by P4 million to P186 million, despite gaining approval to hire 27 new personnel.

Email Vic Agustin at cocktales_tv5@yahoo.com

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