THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it supports the proposal to extend the availability of the 2019 budget to December 2020 and believes the bill stretching out the validity of the funds complies with a presidential order, reducing the chances of a veto.
“The Secretary supports it,” Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua said in an interview at the DBM Thursday.
Last week, the Palace Spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said President Rodrigo R. Duterte could veto legislation supporting an extension, should the bill run counter to the provisions of Executive Order (EO)No. 91.
The EO, issued on Sept. 9, reiterated the government’s policy that puts in place a cash-based budgeting system, which limits to one year the delivery of goods and services contracted and appropriated for.
Ms. Pascua said that while House Bill No. 5437, which has been adopted by the Senate, extends the 2019 budget availability to Dec. 31, 2020, it is compliant with EO 91.
The bill was passed in light of the late enactment of the 2019 national budget, which was only signed by Mr. Duterte on April 15. The budget was reduced to P3.662 trillion, after Mr. Duterte vetoed some P95.3 billion worth of appropriations which he deemed unconstitutional.
Disbursement of public funds in 2019 was also frozen by the 45-day election ban due to the May 13 midterm polls.
“Basically, EO 91 already permits the implementation of the infrastructure up to December (2020),” Ms. Pascua said.
Section 5 of the EO provides that appropriations for infrastructure capital outlays may be obligated until Dec. 31, 2019, while construction, inspection and payment has a Dec. 31 2020 deadline.
Based on the DBM’s assessment, Ms. Pascua said government agencies are performing well in terms of catching up with their spending. “They’re trying to do their best to meet (the) program for the year; we think konti na lang ang maiiwan (very little will be left)” for actual 2020 spending, she said.
The 18th Congress is currently deliberating the P4.1-trillion spending plan for 2020 at bicameral conference committee level, and target its transmittal to the Office of the President ahead of the Dec. 21 adjournment. — Charmaine A. Tadalan