THE PHILIPPINES’ gross domestic product (GDP) growth may lose 1.1-2.3 percentage points should the 2018 national budget be reenacted for the whole year in 2019, according to estimates which state economic managers submitted to the Senate on Monday.
That means that GDP may hope to grow just 4.7-5.9% next year against the government’s 7-8% target for next year, as a reenacted budget means that no new projects can be implemented.
Overall economic growth averaged 6.3% in the nine months to September against the government’s scaled-down 6.5-6.9% goal for 2018.
Lawmakers will be going on a Dec. 15-Jan. 13 Christmas break, leaving no time for the Senate to approve the P3.757-trillion proposed 2019 budget.
Under the law, the P3.767-trillion 2018 national budget will be automatically reenacted for 2019 should President Rodrigo R. Duterte fail to sign the 2019 spending plan into law by yearend.
Department of Budget and Management estimates presented during the Senate plenary session on the 2019 budget show that there will be a P219.8 billion cut in total disbursements under reenacted 2018 spending program.
It said that employment will be down by up to 600,000 jobs and that 200,000-400,000 individuals risk being be pushed into poverty.
The DBM said that most affected sectors include the construction, public administration, defense, wholesale and retail trade, land, transportation and education.
Based on the schedule released by the Senate on Nov. 25, budget interpellation will take place Dec. 5-12. The Senate targets to approve the bill on final reading on Jan. 16.
The bicameral conference committee is scheduled on Jan. 18-23 and ratification by both chambers on Jan. 29.
Congress will transmit the ratified 2019 budget to Malacañang on Feb. 7.
House of Representatives deliberations on the proposed 2019 budget were stalled for about two weeks in August over lawmakers’ opposition to the Executive’s shift to a national budget based on the limited spending capacities of departments and agencies. The chamber approved the spending plan on final reading on Nov. 20.
“I think that’s quite remote to have a reenacted budget. But you know a reenacted budget is certainly not ideal because new projects cannot be embarked upon and all projects cannot be carried forward. So we just hope that we could catch up,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters yesterday when sought for comment. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan