House on track with passing 2019 budget–Nograles

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By Gladys Mae Ablon and Mario Mallari

The suspension of the deliberations at the House of Representatives will not affect the passage of next year’s national budget on time assured Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Karlo Nograles yesterday.

Nograles, in a radio interview, said it is too early to say the House will conduct marathon budget deliberations to make up for the suspended hearings.

“When we crafted this budget schedule, we were under the assumption that we will be able to pass the 2019 budget as a Republic Act, meaning signed by the President Duterte by November 30,” Nograles said.

“With this adjustment, it’s still manageable. It could still be signed before December, before Christmas,” he added.

The House panel suspended indefinitely talks for the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 so it will be consistent with opposition to the “cash-based” nature of next year’s general appropriations.

Cash-based budgeting means agencies have only one year with a three-month extension after the fiscal year to settle payments for the goods and services delivered.

He added that while it is more systematic than obligations-based budgeting and prevents underspending, it causes a portion of the allocation for government agencies to be slashed.

In obligations-based budgeting, the funds for the fiscal year are valid for two years against one year in cash-based transactions.

Nograles said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reviewed the infrastructure projects of the agencies that could not be finished within a year.

With the lawmakers’ opposition to cash-based budgeting, Nograles said they will “throw the problem back” to the DBM on how to restore the budget cuts.

Nograles, likewise, could not say yet if last year’s budget will be reenacted should Congress fail to approve next year’s general appropriations bill.

“Discussions on a reenacted budget only happen when it’s already December and no budget is still signed or it looks like the chances of a budget being signed is dim or slim. Then we will discuss the reenacted budget,” he said.

“But at this point, I don’t think anybody should even discuss or think about a reenacted budget. We are not there anymore,” he added.

The proposed national budget for 2019 is P10 billion lower than the P3.767-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2018.

Budget hearings will continue at the Senate, though.

But unlike Nograles’ position, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he does not see any problem with the proposed cash-based budgeting system.

At the same time, Recto is expecting a compromise for the House of Representatives to proceed with the budget hearings.

p: wjg

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