House okays proposed 2019 national budget on second reading

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — The House of Representatives has approved the proposed ₱3.757 trillion national budget for 2019 on second reading Wednesday.

The budget eyed for next year is ₱433 billion or thirteen percent higher than its previous cash-based counterpart.

During the plenary deliberations, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez urged the government to make fiscal management a top priority, given the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law and deliberations on the proposed Trabaho Bill, two measures he believes should improve the way agencies use their budget allocations.

"Despite the passage of TRAIN and imminent passing of Trabaho, our support remains tentative unless tax collection is transparent and efficient," Suarez said.

He added, "This representation strongly urges the administration to implement the lateral attrition law that has been in place since 2005. I have said it before, and I will say it again, strictly implement this law and let it strengthen the administration's drive in promoting transparency and accountability."

The approval comes after various delays in budget deliberations. The proposal to shift from obligation-based to cash-based system has proven to be a bottleneck in passing the national budget for 2019.

RELATED: The struggle for the 2019 national budget

Legislators argued that one year may not be enough to finish big ticket projects. The House of Representatives earlier temporarily suspended budget deliberations in opposition of cash-based disbursements. But eventually House leaders and budget officials have agreed on following a cash-based system.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on August 30 said agencies will still be required to complete projects within a year, but they will be given the option to extend for another six months.