The Senate is on-track in approving the proposed P1.816 trillion national budget for next year, Senator Franklin Drilon said yesterday, as the Senate Finance Committee has wrapped up committee deliberations on the individual budgets of national government agencies.

Next year’s proposed budget has been transmitted by the House of Representatives to the Senate on Wednesday and was referred to the Finance Committee, said Drilon.

“We will diligently work for the passage of the budget so that by January 1, we will have an approved national budget for 2012,” Drilon, the committee’s chairman, said.

Drilon added the panel will review the amendments incorporated by the House in the budget.

House Bill No. 5023 or the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2012, which was approved by the House Tuesday, will be sponsored in plenary when sessions resume on November 14, Drilon said.

Plenary debates would be completed on November 22, which is also the date of the simultaneous approval on second and third reading in the Senate, he said.

A bicameral conference committee will be convened on November 23-28 to reconcile disagreements between the Senate and the House versions of the budget, he added.

Likewise, he assured the passage of the government’s spending plan before lawmakers go on a holiday break on December 17.

The proposed outlay for next year is 10.4% higher from the current year’s outlay of P1.645 trillion. Next year’s budget represents 16.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), or the value of goods and services produced by an economy in a given period.

According to departmental allocations, the Department of Education has the highest with P238.8 billion budget, followed by Department of Public Works and Highways, P125.5 billion, Department of National Defense, P107.9 billion, Department of Interior and Local Government, P49.4 billion, and Department of Agriculture, P54 billion.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development will get P49.4 billion; Department of Health, P44.4 billion; Department of Transportation and Communications, P34.6 billion; Department of Agrarian Reform, P18.3 billion; and the Judiciary, P15.7 billion.

Last year, Congress managed to pass the 2011 General Appropriations Act before yearend, the first time the government functioned on an operational budget in the last decade.