Philippines: Senate resumes budget hearings

  • The Senate will resume its hearings this week on the proposed PHP3.7tr national budget for 2019 after the impasse between the House of Representatives and Malacañang over the cash-based budgeting system was resolved.
  • Congress will resume session on 29 Aug 18 after its two-week break. During the recess, House leaders were at loggerheads with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who proposed cash-budgeting, which meant agencies will be given funds that they must spend in a year.
  • As congressmen and Diokno were at a standoff, the Senate suspended its own budget hearings as the chamber can only officially act on the final version that will be submitted by the House.
  • Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate finance committee, earlier said the panel will also review the performance of agencies, particularly those that have registered low disbursement rate of funds.
  • On 30 Aug 18, the committee will review the proposed budgets of the Office of the President and the Presidential Management Staff.
  • Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has warned that lawmakers’ constituents, not Congress, will be the biggest losers if the national budget is re-enacted.
  • A re-enacted budget, he added, would endanger the increase in salaries of military and civilian workers, the 2019 elections, hosting of the Southeast Asian Games and expansion of college scholarships to private schools, as well as deprive the people of safety nets against inflation.
  • Some sectors have expressed fears that the Duterte administration would end up with a re-enacted budget due to snags and delays in the deliberation in the House on the proposed cash-based PHP3.757tr 2019 national budget.
  • Salceda said a re-enacted budget sends a wrong signal to investors about the ability of the government to maintain the reform momentum.

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