Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno holds his weekly "Breakfast with Ben" press conference on Dec. 5, 2018. Lawmakers adjourned their session for their month-long Christmas vacation without approving the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for next year. This means the national government will have to run using a re-enacted budget beginning next month.
DBM/Released
No special session on 2019 national budget, says Diokno
(philstar.com) - December 14, 2018 - 2:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte won’t ask Congress to hold a special session to ensure a new national budget will be passed before the year ends, forcing the government to operate on a re-enacted budget in early 2019 and threatening economic growth.

Lawmakers adjourned their session for their month-long Christmas vacation without approving the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for next year. This means the national government will have to run using a re-enacted budget beginning next month.

Under a re-enacted budget, new programs and projects proposed for 2019 will be unfunded since the previous outlay will be reused next year. The country’s economic managers said this could crimp government spending and, in turn, dampen economic growth.

“The senators appear exhausted. They requested a break,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said.

“Hopefully, the legislators will be fully reinvigorated by then and will act swiftly for the enactment of the 2019 budget,” Diokno added.

“The sooner Congress act on the new budget, the lower the negative impact of a re-enacted one on the economy.”

Budget hearings were suspended for three weeks last August after House lawmakers opposed the Duterte administration’s shift to a budgeting system designed to impose fiscal discipline across state offices. 

Under the Constitution, the president may call a special session at any time.

Last Wednesday, Congress held a joint session where they discussed, and swiftly granted, Duterte’s request to prolong the military rule in Mindanao for the third time.

Despite senators’ promise to pass the new outlay on time, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri reportedly said the Senate would have to adjust their schedule to give way for the joint session on martial law extension.

"These developments speak a lot about the Duterte administration. These are indications that this administration has the wrong priorities. It should be working on measures to address economic issues," Dennis Coronacion, a political science professor at the University of Santo Tomas, said in a recent interview.

According to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, even if Duterte convenes lawmakers to a special session during their Christmas vacation, they would still not be able to approve the budget. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral with a report from The STAR/Christina Mendez

2019 NATIONAL BUDGET
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