House OKs 2019 budget on final reading
The House of Representatives finally gave its nod to the Duterte administration’s first cash-cased budget worth P3.757-trillion for 2019.
The lower chamber voted 196 to 8 to approve the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) or House Bill No. 8169 on Tuesday, days after Senate President Vicente Sotto III requested an earlier approval than the November 28 target date of the House.
The move, which assuaged fears of a reenacted budget next year, came more than a month after the House approved the GAB on its second reading last October 3.
Next year’s appropriation is about P433 billion or 13 percent higher than the 2018 cash-based equivalent of P3.324 trillion.
Under a cash-based budgeting, all government programs and projects budgeted for the fiscal year should be implemented and delivered within the same year up to the three-month period following the end of the fiscal year.
This is a shift from the government’s usual obligation-based budgeting, wherein the implementation, completion, and payment of the projects and programs in the General Appropriations Act could be made beyond the yearend provided they are obligated within the fiscal year by contract or other modes of incurring an obligation.
The House has yet to release an updated copy of the GAB and the breakdown of their amendments to it, but Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. has assured that their version of the 2019 budget is pork-free, contrary to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s claim.
But several lawmakers rejected the approval of the budget which, they said, contained the illegal pork barrel fund.
“Pinananatili ng 2019 Panukalang Badyet ang sistemang pork barrel, di makataong prayoridad sa maluhong mga proyektong sa Build, Build, Build, magastos at mapanupil na militarisasyon sa tabing ng ‘pambansang seguridad at depensa,'” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said in his explanation of his no-vote.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro meanwhile criticized the budget, saying it was riddled with budget cuts on social services.
“Ginoong Speaker, ang representasyon pong ito ay bumoboto ng no sa proposed 2019 budget na ito dahil hindi ito nagbibigay ng sapat na pondo sa social services tulad ng edukasyon, kalusugan, pabahay at iba pa, bagkus ay mas malaki pa ang cuts na ginawa kumpara sa nakaraang budget ng DOH at DepEd,” she said.
Other members of the Makabayan bloc, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, Gabriela Reps. Arlene Brosas and Emmie de Jesus, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago also voted against the proposed 2019 budget. /je
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