STATE economic managers will meet with President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday to discuss a “compromise” between the Executive’s original P3.757-trillion cash-based budget and a “hybrid” system that will include funds that can be disbursed for more than a year.
Mr. Duterte’s meeting on Tuesday evening with Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo and House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. resulted in the House of Representatives — which had initially suspended budget deliberations in protest against the smaller national budget amid an election year — now poised to resume this work amid Congress’ Aug. 17-27 break.
But Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno told reporters in a mobile phone message that he has yet to hear of the new proposal.
Hindi ko alam kung anong (I do not know what is a) hybrid (budget),” he said.
Bukas magmi-meet kami ni (Finance) Secretary (Carlos G.) Dominguez (III) — kaming tatlo,” he added, saying that Mr. Duterte will be part of the meeting, when asked when the Executive will discuss the proposal.
While Presidential Spokesperson Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said in a media briefing in Malacañang last Wednesday that Mr. Duterte will ask Messrs. Diokno and Dominguez “kung pupuwedeng magkaroon ng (if we can have a) compromise,” he said “the Executive is firm on the cash-based budget,” involving projects programmed that will be procured paid within one fiscal year, as opposed to the current “obligation-based” system that allows a two-year time frame.
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Director Rolando U. Toledo told reporters on the sidelines of a Senate hearing yesterday that although the House “has to define what that hybrid is,” the DBM is “still preparing for the reenacted (2018) budget, or the ‘option B’.”
Mr. Toledo, however, maintained that the House cannot return the proposed 2019 budget to the Executive branch.
“They could always just approve or reallocate, but… hindi nila pwede isauli sa amin (Congress cannot return it to the Executive). That’s in the constitution,” he said.
Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua said in a mobile phone message that “it will be difficult to function under two budgeting systems,” when asked of Mr. Andaya’s proposed “hybrid” system.
“One of the objectives we were aiming for under the ACBA (annual cash-based appropriations) was to drastically simplify the accounting of funds so that the status of programs and projects would be more transparent,” she said.
Mr. Andaya, who served as Budget secretary under Ms. Arroyo within her 2001-2010 presidency, has argued that the budget which Malacañang submitted to Congress last month was not purely cash-based, citing lump-sum allocations like calamity funds that can be disbursed only as needed and which need not be used up within a year. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan