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DBM yet to submit 2022 budget measure to Congress

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
DBM yet to submit 2022 budget measure to Congress
The DBM earlier ordered government departments and agencies to jump-start their budgeting process for the 2022 national budget as early as last January in order to submit Duterte’s last spending plan in time for SONA. But the agency was unable to submit the 2022 National Expenditure Plan to Congress last Monday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has yet to submit the proposed national budget to Congress even though it had planned to do so in time for President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday.

The DBM earlier ordered government departments and agencies to jump-start their budgeting process for the 2022 national budget as early as last January in order to submit Duterte’s last spending plan in time for SONA. But the agency was unable to submit the 2022 National Expenditure Plan to Congress last Monday.

This is the fourth time the Duterte administration did not submit the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on the same day of the SONA, veering away from the traditional practice during previous administrations.

It was only able to submit the GAB to Congress on SONA day twice – in 2017 and 2018.

House appropriations committee chairman and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap said they have not received official word from DBM on a specific date of submission of the GAB.

“There’s no definite date yet, but the deadline should be Aug. 26 or 30 days after the SONA. We see no problem for as long as the DBM meets this constitutional deadline,” he explained to The STAR.

Yap cited the 1987 Constitution, which mandates the President to submit the proposed budget to Congress within 30 days from the opening of the regular session of Congress.

Yap gave assurance that his panel would act swiftly in deliberating on the reported P5-trillion national budget for next year.

“Just like in the previous year under my watch, the House appropriations committee will work triple time to ensure the timely passage of the budget which will be crucial for our pandemic response,” he stressed.

The House leadership, through Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, earlier committed to pass the budget by October just like in the previous year.

“We’re targeting that when the net expenditure program will be submitted us, we promise or we commit to have this done before even the deadline of the filing of certificates of candidacy. So that’s sometime in October,” he revealed.

“We’ve done it in the past, so it’s not a farfetched ideal or goal,” the Leyte congressman stressed.

Romualdez cited the importance of the 2022 budget for the continuation of COVID-19 pandemic response programs.?He said the programs under the proposed Bayanihan 3 law might be incorporated into the national budget instead.

The DBM meanwhile has committed to submit to Congress the funding proposal worth P5.024 trillion for 2022 before the constitutional deadline on Aug. 25.

Budget Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo told The STAR the DBM has reached the concluding stages in preparing the 2022 NEP and plans to pass the budget proposal to Congress before the cutoff on Aug. 25.

At a special meeting last week, the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) announced it approved the expenditure ceiling of the 2022 NEP at P5.024 trillion. It said the 2022 NEP exceeds the previous program of P4.506 trillion by more than 11 percent.

Loans to be scrutinized

The Senate will scrutinize the loans the Duterte administration will obtain to fund the estimated P5-trillion national budget for 2022 as the country’s debt has soared due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said yesterday.

Lacson said while loans – foreign and domestic – have long propped up the national budget, there must be prudence exercised in procuring them as some rating agencies have revised its outlook on the Philippines to “negative” as the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio was expected to reach 54.5 percent in 2022.

He said it was possible that senators would ask the Department of Finance (DOF) not to push through with some of the loans.

“From 2017 to 2019 or before the pandemic, we borrow an average of P1 trillion. And yet we also record anywhere from P400 billion to P600 billion in unused budgets or underspending annually. So why not use it?” Lacson told the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

He said during budget deliberations in previous years, he kept raising the issue on the huge, hundred billion-peso disparity between the projected deficit and the planned loan procurement.

He said the loans procured are hundreds of billions of pesos higher than the projected budget shortfall for the year. – Elijah Felice Rosales, Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Delon Porcalla

DBM SONA 2021
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