‘Duterte won’t allow another reenacted budget’
Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) - July 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The head of the country’s premier socioeconomic planning agency said President Duterte can be expected to put his foot down to get the 2020 national budget passed on time to prevent an economic slowdown like what happened in the first quarter this year.

“I don’t think the President will allow this time that the budget for 2020 will be delayed. So it has to be completed before December so that it can be signed into law at the latest by the end of December 2019,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in an interview on “The Chiefs” aired on Cignal TV’s One News last Tuesday.

The domestic economy grew at a slower-than-expected pace in the first quarter of 2019 due to the delay in passage of the national budget that stalled government spending for infrastructure and priority programs.

This was the weakest pace of growth in 16 quarters since hitting 5.1 percent in the first quarter of 2015 and compares with the 6.5 percent growth in the first quarter of 2018 and the revised 6.3 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Growth in government consumption weakened significantly to 7.4 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared with the growth of 13.6 percent in the first quarter of 2018 and 12.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Public construction slowed down to 8.6 percent because of delays in the construction of public infrastructure and implementation of several programs.

Passage of the budget was delayed after lawmakers locked horns over alleged last-minute insertions in the general appropriations bill.

“The reenactment was for four months. It was quite long. That was a third of the year. That was a disappointment for us. But the executive (branch) was not to blame there,” Pernia said.

Pernia noted that despite the remaining pockets of instability in Congress, especially in the House of Representatives where the budget will emanate, the legislative branch could be expected to submit the budget on time.

“For sure, there is going to be no reenactment in 2020,” Pernia said.

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