House to resume budget hearings

MANILA The House of Representatives is set to resume its hearings on the proposed 2019 national budget over the congressional break after reaching a compromise with the Palace, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said on Wednesday.

In a press conference, Andaya said the House leaders' meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte last night opened "clear lines of communication" over the budget deadlock. Also present during the meeting were Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Special Assistant to President Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go.

"The President has opened the lines of communication and a possible agreement on how the budget for 2019 will be executed and how it will come out in the House of Representatives," Andaya said.

"I think I can suggest to the Chairman (of the House appropriations committee) that we now continue the budget hearings... so over the break we will resume," he added.

Andaya said the resumption of budget hearings is a "gesture" or "a hand of cooperation" with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

House budget deliberations have been temporarily suspended amid concerns of congressmen regarding the proposed cash-based budget system.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the Palace, as well as Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, remain firm in their preference for cash-based budgeting.

I've only been in contact this morning with Secretary Diokno and Secretary Dominguez and they were united in saying that we are not daunted by the possibility of a reenacted budget because that means it's Executive that will choose which projects will be implemented, Roque said.

Andaya explained that the 2019 national budget is a "hybrid" of cash-based and obligation-based budgeting system.

"In a sense it's a hybrid... It's not a full-fledged cash-based system," Andaya said.

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.

While he did not divulge the details of the agreement, he said the budget cuts in various government agencies would be restored, raising the possibility of realignment.

Andaya also raised the possibility of a supplemental budget to fund the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, as well as the Supreme Court ruling on increasing the internal revenue allotment of local government units. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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