Hearings resume for 2019 budget as some cuts restored
BUDGET hearings at the House of Representatives resumed as scheduled on Tuesday after the chamber and economic managers compromised over the one-year spending deadline attached to allocations under the 2019 National Expenditure Program.
“The hybrid budget we’ve been talking about will go ahead. The budget hearings will continue today. We hope to pass the budget on third reading by Oct. 12,” Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. told reporters in a briefing.
The compromise “hybrid” system, which retains some looser two-year spending deadlines under the old budget system, was reached in a meeting on Tuesday attended by the Majority Leader, House Appropriations Committee chair Karlo Alexei B. Nograles, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, and Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea.
The House on Aug. 11 suspended budget deliberations after it realized that the quicker-to-expire allocations effectively amounted to budget cuts across all government agencies, particularly for capital outlay items.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday resumed work on the budgets of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Education.
Mr. Andaya said the meeting produced an agreement to restore cuts made to education, health and infrastructure spending items, and that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has agreed to assist the chamber in sourcing necessary funds.
“We agreed that some cuts will be restored. We’ll help each other in finding areas where we can source the funds for the items to be restored,” Mr. Andaya said. “We’re looking at options — maybe we can source some from the unprogrammed funds and some from a supplemental budget.”
Supplemental funding is being considered for the plebiscite in the Bangsamoro region as well as the implementation of the Supreme Court decision on the internal revenue allotment (IRA) for local government units.
He estimated the necessary funding for both items at about P140 billion.
He noted, however, that the supplemental budget will depend on sufficient funds.
“Half of budgeting is revenue. If there are no funds, there is no use submitting a supplemental budget. The law requires a certification from the Treasury that there are actual funds to support the supplemental budget,” Mr. Andaya said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan