Palace urges Congress to pass 2020 budget on time to avoid economic slowdown

Palace urges Congress to pass 2020 budget on time to avoid economic slowdown

Alexis Romero ( - September 19, 2019 - 6:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Thursday urged Congress to pass next year's proposed P4.1 trillion budget on time to prevent a repeat of a reenacted spending program that slowed economic growth and hampered the delivery of government services.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government's constitutional mandate to serve the Filipino people must prevail over "partisan considerations" and "constant differences or varying interpretations on the budget."

Such differences should not hamper government operations, he added.  

"In certifying to urgency of the budget bill, (President Rodrigo Duterte) wants to convey to the members of Congress the importance of passing the General Appropriations Bill on time to avoid a repeat of a reenacted budget that wreaked havoc to the economic program of this administration, affected the timely delivery of basic services to the people, and ultimately, slowed our growth during the first quarter of this year," Panelo said in a statement.

Duterte certified as urgent the proposed 2020 budget last September 17 to ensure that the spending bill would be passed and signed into law this year. The certification exempts the budget from the rule that a bill can only be passed on final reading three days after its approval on second reading.

READ: Duterte certifies passage of P4.1 trillion budget in 2020 as urgent

Under the Constitution, the government has to operate on a reenacted budget if Congress fails to pass a new spending bill. The reenacted budget shall remain in force until Congress approves a new General Appropriations Bill.
Presidential Legislative Liaison Office chief Adelino Sitoy has said Duterte had certified next year's budget as urgent because the administration has "learned lessons from last year."

The government operated on a reenacted budget in the first quarter as the passage of this year's P3.757-trillion budget was stalled by a deadlock over the last-minute insertions in the spending bill.

Economic managers have blamed the delayed enactment of the 2019 budget for the slower than expected economic growth in the first quarter.

READ: Why a reenacted budget is not good news for the Philippines

The Philippines' economic growth slowed to 5.6% in the first three months, slower than the 6.5% growth recorded in the same period last year and the revised 6.3% growth in the fourth quarter of the same year. The reenacted budget caused an underspending of about P1 billion per day, which in turn stifled economic activity, officials said.

While Duterte wants the timely passage of the budget, Panelo said the president would not allow illegal items like "pork barrel" in the spending bill.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that congressional allocations known as "pork barrel" is unconstitutional because it violated the separation of powers by allowing lawmakers to wield non-oversight, post-enactment authority in vital areas of budget executions."The president will decide whether it’s pork or not. He will veto it if it’s against the Constitution," he said.

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