âWeâre getting mixed signals here. I think the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) should be more upfront on this. Itâs because itâs very unclear. We donât even know where weâre going,â House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. told a news briefing yesterday.
“We’re getting mixed signals here. I think the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) should be more upfront on this. It’s because it’s very unclear. We don’t even know where we’re going,” House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. told a news briefing yesterday.
Michael Varcas
‘Congress to suffer with reenacted budget’
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Administration and opposition lawmakers are getting mixed signals from the budget program for 2019 submitted by President Duterte’s economic managers.

“We’re getting mixed signals here. I think the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) should be more upfront on this. It’s because it’s very unclear. We don’t even know where we’re going,” House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. told a news briefing yesterday.

“Where is the income from TRAIN and where will it go? Practically, all Cabinet members are now making a confession, and it’s because they themselves don’t know the answers. Is the TRAIN successful? Then why give additional burden to people?” he said. TRAIN is short for Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law.

The Senate, meanwhile, also suspended its deliberations on the proposed P3.7-trillion national budget pending the resolution of the impasse between the House of Representatives and the Executive branch over budgeting approach.

The House leadership under Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last week suspended the budget hearings in the wake of confusion over the cash-based budgeting scheme being pushed by President Duterte’s economic managers. Lawmakers prefer an obligation-based budgeting.

“We just want to know the logic behind the allocation of projects. They (DBCC) have been saying it’s all for build, build, build but we found out now that these are nonexistent. If the Cabinet members don’t understand, how much more kami?” the Camarines Sur lawmaker said.

But Andaya, along with Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, said a re-enacted budget would only be a last resort. “Right now, we are not in favor of reenacted budget,” Andaya said. “It’s too early to talk about that. It’s still August, not December,” Nograles pointed out.

Nograles, chairman of the House appropriations committee, lamented the multibillion-peso reductions made by the Department of Budget and Management in the allocations for key agencies like the health and education departments.

“What we’re saying is this change in policy may be too much too soon. The cash-based system is a nice concept. We also want to remove under utilization. But we should also allow some agencies to catch up and improve their utilization,” he told House reporters.

“We don’t want to risk something that will stunt our economic growth. Let’s allow them some leeway to catch up. We can take it year by year. We’re not closing our doors to cash-based budgeting, but the point is it can still be cured. They can still amend it,” Nograles emphasized.

Lawmakers from the super majority coalition, the minority bloc of Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, the Makabayan bloc as well as the independent opposition have joined forces to question the cash-based budgeting of the DBCC.

“Hopefully we can resolve it within this week although Congress will be going on a recess (Aug. 16-27). Hopefully it will be OK after the break,” Nograles said.

The cash-based budgeting limits appropriations, bidding, completion of projects and payments within a single year. In obligation-based budgeting, appropriations could be spread out for two years or more to ensure project completion.

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte called on national government agencies to get their act together in implementing infrastructure projects in support of President Duterte’s build, build, build program.

“My humble suggestion is if these funds are allotted to local roads, the absorptive capacity will improve. The money not spent will then be spent,” Villafuerte told budget chief Benjamin Diokno at recent briefing.

The Senate’s decision to suspend budget deliberations came after a closed-door caucus attended by 17 senators belonging to the majority bloc led by Senate President Vicente Sotto III. – With Paolo Romero, Alexis Romero

BUDGET PROGRAM FOR 2019
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