Pangilinan issues caution on reenacted budget for 2019
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan warned that having a reenacted 2019 national budget will fill “the President’s war chest with funds in an election year.”
Pangilinan issued the statement after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) raised the possibility of having a reenacted budget next year in order to break the impasse with lawmakers on a new spending plan that will allocate funds only for projects or tasks that can be completed within next year.
“Nothing is insurmountable in the disagreement between the executive and Congress on the 2019 proposed budget. Having a reenacted budget is an unacceptable scenario, especially as 2019 will be an election year,” Pangilinan said in a statement on Monday.
The opposition senator noted that a reenacted budget would give President Rodrigo Duterte “a blanket authority to declare the capital outlay component as ‘savings’, which will give it the power to use the same for whatever programs, activities, and projects the President wants.”
“It means literally stuffing the President’s war chest with funds in an election year,” he added.
The possibility of a reenacted budget came after the House of Representatives suspended deliberations on the proposed P3.757-trillion cash-based budget for 2019.
House leaders opposed the new spending plan and wanted a return to obligation-based appropriations to ensure more funding for their districts and constituencies.
Pangilinan also reminded that the country operated in a reenacted budget under the Arroyo administration, when corruption allegations rise on the alleged illegal use of public funds.
“Let us not forget the many years when we operated on a reenacted budget under the Arroyo administration. These were the very same years when a number of corruption allegations surfaced on the use of public funds,” he said.
For his part, Senator Bam Aquino said that the sudden shift to cash-based budgeting will delay government service just like what happened with the tax reform implementation and the Boracay rehabilitation.
“Many times may mga policy po ‘yung gobyerno biglaan, in the end ‘yung taumbayan ang nag suffer. For example, ‘yung TRAIN Law tinulak po iyan, hindi naman po kayang ma-implement ng maayos yung tulong sa mga mahihirap. ‘Yung Boracay, pinasara pero di pa pala ready ang tulong sa mga mawawalan ng trabaho. We might come to the same situation again where there is change na biglaan at in the end, yung government service yung maantala,” Aquino told reporters.
However, Aquino said, unlike the Congress, the Senate is not totally opposing the proposed cash-based budgeting.
“I dont think the Senate has the same sentiments with Congress pagdating dito, and we are willing to really look for the best solutions sa ating mga problema pagdating sa efficiency,” he said. /je
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