Solons vow to monitor gov’t expenditure after Duterte inks 2020 budget
MANILA, Philippines — Leaders and members of the House of Representatives have vowed to “closely monitor” the budget spending of government agencies after President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez described the 2020 budget as “pro-poor” as it prioritized social services, peace and security, and infrastructure.
He also expressed confidence that the country will be able to meet its economic target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent growth for 2019 up to 2020.
“The House leadership will continue to pursue the passage of legislative measures designed to sustain and accelerate the economic growth momentum for the benefit even of ordinary Filipinos,” Romualdez said in a statement.
Meanwhile, for his part, Deputy Speaker Michael Romero said that agencies must focus on spending its funds “timely and as authorized.”
With Duterte also approving the extension of the 2019 budget’s validity until 2020, Romero noted that the economy will get a “sizeable boost from all that government spending.”
“We in Congress will closely watch how well and how fast the Departments spend the budgets by checking their absorptive capacity,” he said in a separate statement.
“Citizens nationwide should see more classrooms, school buildings, bridges, roads, and other key infrastructure built left and right in the coming months,” he added.
For its part, lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc insisted that the 2020 budget is “militarist, pork-laden and full of cutbacks on basic social services.”
They pointed out that the budget for programs under defense and security agencies, such as the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict programs, were “fattened.”
“Even programs for social and economic services (labor, health, education, welfare, etc.) were placed under the administration of defense and security agencies,” the bloc said in a collective statement.
Such details were also not shown in the Congress plenary while the budget was being ratified nor to the public, the Makabayan bloc said.
“We can only know the full details of the ‘dagdag-bawas’ once we have the printed copy of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) 2020 and its programs implemented,” it said.
The P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 is the country’s largest to date, larger by 12 percent than the 2019 national budget.
The bulk of the budget was allocated to the social services sector, which is at P1.495 trillion, or 36.5 percent of the national budget. This is to fund human capital development programs in education, health, and social protection.
Meanwhile, P1.2 trillion is allotted for economic services, which corresponds to 29.3 percent of the 2020 budget. This is an increase of 23.7 percent over the 2019 budget for the sector.
For infrastructure development, in particular, the Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Transportation, will receive higher allotments this year to boost the administration’s infrastructure programs, accounting for P581.7 billion (25 percent growth) and P100.6 billion (45 percent growth), respectively.
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