New system may delay 2019 budget approval — House appropriations chief

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 9) Lawmakers on Thursday said the passage of the 2019 national budget may be delayed or re-enacted after members of the House of Representatives opposed the new budgeting system proposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). 

Members from the majority and minority unanimously contested the new cash-based budgeting system.

House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Karlo Nograles said the new system will result in lower capital or infrastructure spending of government agencies.

"Mababawasan (ang) mga classroom buildings, mababawsan (ang) health facilities, mababawasan (ang) irrigation projects, mababawasan ang kahit mga new buildings and facilities ng SUCs (State Universities and Colleges), mababawasan ang roads and bridges," Nograles said.

(Translation: The number of classroom buildings, health facilities, irrigation projects, even new buildings and facilities of SUCs, roads and bridges— will all be reduced.)

The administration plans to shift from a multi-year obligation-based to a cash-based national budget system next year.

The cash-based system will only allow resources for projects that can be initiated and completed within the year. The obligation-based system, on the other hand, allows extended funding up to two years.

The shift, according to the Budget Department, will make sure agencies will spend their funds within the year to avoid underspending.

But Nograles said lawmakers are planning to amend a provision in the proposed 2019 National Expenditure Program to restore obligation-based budgeting.

He added lawmakers will ask the Budget Department to revert the cuts made on a number of departments. As such, the issue, Nograles admits, may delay the passage or even lead to a re-enacted 2019 budget.

"If we are able to correct an injustice, then a little delay will not be a problem. Mabilis naman kami mag-trabaho sa kongreso, mag-pupuyat kami kung kailangan (The congress works fast, we wouldn't mind lack of sleep) just to get budget passed," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte in July approved the P3.757-trillion national budget. Malacañang has submitted it to Congress.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.