PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law the extension of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) until the end of next year, making up for the four-month delay in passing this year’s spending plan.

Mr. Duterte signed Republic Act 11464 or an act that will extend the availability of the 2019 budget until Dec. 31, 2020. The President signed RA 11464 on Dec. 20 but the law was only released to the public Thursday.

“All appropriations authorized in this Act shall be available for release and obligation for the purpose specified, and under the same special provisions applicable thereto, until Dec. 31, 2020,” according to RA 11464.

The 2019 National Budget utilizes a Cash Budgeting System (CBS), which calls for government agencies to spend their allocations within the fiscal year. The 2019 GAA was signed into law in April and is worth P3.662 trillion.

Mr. Duterte signed Executive Order 91 in September ordering the adoption of CBS for the 2019 budget. The purpose of the CBS, which is a move away from the obligation-based system used in past national budgets, is to force government agencies to prioritize implementation of programs within the year. CBS only allows funding and completion of government projects and programs within the fiscal year.

As of Nov. 30, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released 98.9% of the budget or P3.622 trillion, leaving a balance of P39.5 billion worth of unobligated funds.

The 2020 National Budget worth over P4 trillion will also be adopting the same CBS.

Regarding the 2020 budget, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a briefing Thursday that Mr. Duterte will be signing the 2020 GAA into law on the first week of 2020.

Sabi niya (He said), January, first week,” Mr. Panelo told reporters Thursday.

He added also that Mr. Duterte will take his time to inspect the budget bill before he signs it. For the 2019 budget, Mr. Duterte signed it and vetoed several provisions.

“He will go through that; ‘di ba ganun si Presidente, mabusisi bago pumirma (Isn’t the president like that; he’s meticulous before signing)?” Mr. Panelo said. — Gillian M. Cortez