Senate finance panel to continue its scheduled hearings into proposed 2019 nat’l budget

August 12, 2018

“The Senate finance committee will continue with the budget hearings as scheduled,” said Senator Loren Legarda, head of the said panel.

Legarda said by the time the House resumes their hearings on the budget, “we will be ready to receive the GAB (General Appropriations Bill).”

” I am confident that the House will resolve these concerns in due time,” Legarda said.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero likewise said he would respect the House decision on the matter noting that senators are also concerned over the state economic managers’ move to resort to cash-based budgeting.

“Yes there are (concerns)… especially the foregone fiscal space which might affect the Administration’s ‘Build, build, build’ program as well as its ability to address both natural (like habagat) and man-made (like hyper inflation or conflagration) calamities and occurrences,” Escudero said.

House appropriations committee chairperson Karlo Nograles earlier said the decision of the House panel to suspend the budget hearings is “to be consistent with the position of the House to oppose cash-based budgeting.”

Nograles said the briefings will be suspended “until further notice” to give the development budget coordination committee (DBCC) time to make the necessary changes in the National Expenditure Program (NEP).

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, meanwhile, said he is open to a “cash-based” appropriations” as long as the system is refined.

Recto likewise said he respects the House panel’s decision.

“That’s the prerogative of the House. There are pros and cons for each system. I can work with any,” Recto said.

“I don’t mind a cash-based budget system with refinements. I expect a compromise,” he added.

Nevertheless, he said the Senate must continue with its parallel hearings on the 2019 budget because only through these rigorous examination of agency budgets “will we be able to discover their flaws and faults and apply the remedial measures.”

“We can only hope that after this pause, they can fast-forward their review so that the budget will arrive in the Senate as scheduled and will not jeopardize the traditional timetable of an enacted budget by the end of the year,” Recto said.

Recto noted Congress is already four and a half months away from the end of the year, and any speculation of a reenacted budget is premature.

“The continuation of the Senate hearings actually give us the opportunity to discover and inquire from agencies if their proposed budget for 2019 is at the level that will allow them to fulfill their mandates,” he said.

“The 2019 budget is crucial as it is the expenditure program post-TRAIN and must be reflective of the promised boost in social services and infrastructure spending on which TRAIN was premised,” Recto added..

Recto is referring to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) program of the Duterte government.

Source: Manila Bulletin