Duterte OKs Congress resolution ensuring funds for disaster aid
President Duterte has signed a joint congressional resolution extending the validity of the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlays (CO) in the 2018 budget so that the government could continue responding to the devastation caused by natural calamities that hit the country last year.
Joint Resolution No. 3, which was signed by the President on Dec. 28 and made public on Thursday, extended the validity of these key components in last year’s P3.8-trillion budget to Dec. 31, 2019.
The resolution, which amended Section 61 of the general provisions of Republic Act No. 10964, or the 2018 national budget law, would allow the use of appropriations that have not been released and allotments that have not been obligated, since these will be reverted to the unappropriated surplus of the general fund.
‘For the welfare of the nation’
The resolution said it was “for the benefit of the people and for the welfare of the nation,” citing the effects of several calamities in 2018, such as Typhoon “Rosita” (international name: Yutu) and Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut) and the monsoon rains that caused floods in several regions.
Extending the validity of the MOOE and the CO in the 2018 budget for another year will ensure the implementation of the government’s priority projects, such as humanitarian aid for disaster victims, and the rehabilitation of schools, hospitals, bridges and other public infrastructure, according to the resolution.
The Senate and the House approved the resolution without passing the proposed P3.8-trillion budget for 2019.
To minimize damage
Presuming that the government would run on the reenacted budget only in the first three months of the year, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Thursday ordered all state agencies to obligate their budgetary requirements but only for the first quarter.
In a statement, Diokno said the Department of Budget and Management “will do what we can to minimize the damage [from a reenacted budget] to the Philippine economy, particularly public construction.”
“The sooner the 2019 GAA [General Appropriations Act] is passed, the better for the economy and the Filipino people. Ramping up our investments on infrastructure and social services will only be sustainable if the budget is authorized by Congress,” Diokno said. —WITH A REPORT FROM BEN O. DE VERA
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