House suspends budget briefings over cash-based budget dilemma

MANILA -- The House of Representatives has decided to suspend its deliberations on the proposed PHP3.757 trillion cash-based national budget for 2019 at the committee level "until further notice", House appropriations committee chairman Karlo Nograles announced Saturday.

In a message to reporters, Nograles said it was the "decision of the House" to suspend all budget briefings amid lawmakers' outright opposition to the new cash-based budgeting system proposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Nograles also noted that lawmakers wanted to revert to the obligation-based budget system.

"(We will suspend budget briefings) to be consistent with the position of the House to oppose cash-based budgeting," Nograles said.

"And since we will revert to obligation-based budgeting, we will give time to DBCC (Development and Budget Coordination Committee) to make the necessary changes," he added.

House members across the political spectrum have banded together to oppose the proposed PHP3.757-trillion cash-based budget for 2019, which contained budget cuts in key government agencies.

A resolution is circulating in the lower chamber seeking the recall of the budget reform bill, which proposes a shift from a multi-year obligation budget to an annual cash-based budget.

In an annual cash-based budget, contracts intended to be implemented for the fiscal year should be fully delivered by the end of the year while the multi-year obligation-based budgeting system allows the government to enter into a contract or "obligate funds" without requiring the actual delivery of goods and services within the year.

Nograles said the DBM's proposed cash-based budgeting is all about "slash, slash, slash", contrary to the administration's "Build, Build, Build" thrust.

He said the cash-based budgeting would lead to less funding for classroom buildings, health facilities, irrigation projects, roads and bridges, which usually take more than a year to complete.

During the briefing of the DBCC at the House of Representatives last week, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told lawmakers that the 2018 and 2019 national budgets are not strictly comparable, since the former is obligation-based.

"The 2019 cash-based budget cannot be directly compared to the 2018 budget, or any previous obligation-based budget for that matter. An appropriate apples-to-apples comparison would be to estimate the cash-based equivalent of the 2018 budget versus the 2019 appropriations," Diokno said.

Diokno noted that the cash-based equivalent of the 2018 budget is PHP3.324 trillion. Hence, the 2019 budget is actually PHP433 billion, or 13 percent higher than this year's allocation.

Diokno said having an annual cash-based appropriations leads to greater fiscal discipline and prudent use of budget, faster and improved delivery of essential public services, and a more open and accountable government. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

Related posts