DBM-House rift should not hamper passage of 2019 budget — solon
The ongoing rift between the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the House of Representatives on the proposed 2019 cash-based budget will not result in a reenacted budget, House appropriations chair Rep. Karlo Nograles asserted on Friday.
Lawmakers in the lower chamber had crossed party lines to oppose the DBM’s new cash-based budgeting system.
Nograles said the new system “resulted in across-the-board cuts in the budgets of critical agencies” of the departments of Education (DepEd), Health (DOH), and Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The budgets of the three agencies were reduced by P77 billion, P35 billion and P95 billion, respectively, according to the lawmaker.
Nograles has met with DBM representatives on Thursday and discussed possible options. He said the House leadership would also discuss the issue with the Senate on Monday.
Meanwhile, Nograles lamented that the ongoing budget deliberations in the House “have opened our eyes” that the proposed cash-based budgeting system was the “complete opposite” of the “Build, Build, Build’’ thrust of the Duterte administration.
“This is the complete opposite of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ thrust of the Duterte administration. The people expect more infrastructure, more assistance from the government. Instead, the budget presented by the DBM is all about ‘Slash, Slash, Slash,’ which would result in fewer of everything: fewer roads, fewer classrooms, fewer government hospital facilities,” he said in a statement.
He reiterated their stand to revert to an obligations-based budgeting system, saying even members of the Cabinet who have faced them in budget hearings have issues with the DBM’s new system.
Nograles cited Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Officer-in-Charge Prospero de Vera III’s statement last Thursday that the cash-based budget system would “severely hamper” the implementation of Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) Act.
In another hearing, Nograles said DPWH Secretary Mark Villar admitted that the shift to a cash-based budgeting would be “challenging” for his agency.
On Thursday, lawmakers bared that a resolution requesting the Senate to return to the House the budget reform bill is going around the lower chamber.
Nograles said this resolution is another way of saying that the House is against the cash-based budget system” of the DBM.
The DBM has said under the cash-based system, all government programs and projects budgeted for the fiscal year should be implemented and delivered within the same fiscal year.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier defended the new system, saying it would minimize underspending.
The Budget agency also said under the cash-based budget, goods and services delivered, inspected, and accepted until the end of the fiscal year would also be settled within the same year, up to the three-month period following the end of the fiscal year.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, Jr. earlier pointed out that many government departments and lawmakers were used to the obligation-based budgeting.
“Cash-based kasi gagastusin mo yung kikitain mo sa taong ito. Ang obligation-based is pwede kang gumastos pero pwede mo na bayaran next year, kumbaga may credit line sa tindahan, na ‘yun ang kinasanayan natin at ng lahat ng departamento,” Andaya explained, adding that it is “the ideal” system although it would be harder.
At the start of the budget hearings, Nograles questioned that the proposed 2019 budget was P10 billion lower than the P3.767-trillion national budget in 2018.
Diokno, however, said it was “misleading” to compare the P3.757-trillion cash-based budget to the 2018 obligation budget.
He explained that the cash-based equivalent was derived from the monthly disbursement program, net of accounts payables of agencies.
Thus, the 2019 budget is P439.4 billion or 13.2 percent more than the 2018 budget cash-based equivalent of P3.318 trillion. /vvp
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