MANILAThe House of Representatives' appropriations committee on Tuesday started its plenary deliberations on the proposed PHP3.757-trillion national budget for 2019.
During the briefing by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the 2019 national budget, themed Building a Bright Future for the Philippines and Its People", is the first cash-based budget of the Philippines.
"The fiscal year 2019 budget is revolutionary, in a sense, that it is the first cash-based budget of the government," Diokno said.
"This budget guarantees a better and more disciplined accountable cash-based budget that will better support strong, sustainable, and equitable growth. A budget that will make the Philippines better, fairer, safer, cleaner and more beautiful than what it was the year before. The budget is always for our shared future," he added.
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.
Meanwhile, 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.
Diokno noted that the previous administration was "notorious in underspending", reaching a total of PHP631 billion for 2014 to 2015.
Diokno said underspending means delayed or non-delivery of public services, which he said is the "highest sign of incompetence."
The budget chief said the Duterte administration aims to "minimize and gradually eliminate underspending" by introducing budgeting reforms, particularly limiting the validity of appropriations to just one year.
"Underspending has been sizably cut to PHP85.2 billion or just 3 percent from 13 percent in 2017. In fact, for the first half of the year, we even exceeded our spending program by PHP34.4 billion or 2 percent," Diokno said.
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.
From the proposed 2019 budget, the social services sector will get the biggest share of PHP1.377 trillion or 36 percent, followed by the economic services with PHP1.068 trillion (28.4 percent), general public services with PHP709.4 billion (18.9 percent), debt burden with PHP414.1 billion (11 percent), and defense with PHP188.2 billion (5 percent).
The education sector remains the top recipient with a total budget of PHP659.3 billion, followed by the departments of public works and highways with PHP555.7 billion; interior and local government (PHP225.6 billion); defense (PHP183.4 billion); social welfare (PHP173.3 billion); health (PHP141.4 billion); transportation (PHP76.1 billion); agriculture (PHP49.8 billion); judiciary (PHP37.3 billion); and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PHP32.3 billion).
The budget deliberations of the appropriations panel will run until August 29.
In his budget message to Congress, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said the proposed national budget for 2019 aims to "amplify the forces and resources to effectively and efficiently build our nation, in order to draw more of our people from the clutches of poverty and maintain law and order, so everybody lives in peaceful co-existence."
We are almost midway to the path that our people have chosen to traverse with us, one that will take them from mere hopes and dreams of the past to the reality of a better and more comfortable life, in a peaceful and more progressive nation today. We are finally poised on the bridge that will lead us to the bright future that we can actually already glimpse, said Duterte.
He said the shift to annual cash-based appropriations from the current obligation-based appropriations will promote better designed, better coordinated projects and programs from agencies, and speed up delivery of goods and services to the people; while obligations or contracts for programs, activities and projects (PAP) for implementation during the fiscal year should be delivered, inspected and accepted by end of said fiscal year.
Among the key budget priorities the President identified are : 1) intensifying infrastructure development through infrastructure projects in and outside Metro Manila and in local government units (LGUs), and through Information Technology (IT) infrastructures; 2) expanding programs on human development; 3) enhancing social services through expanded educational opportunities, universal health for all, and social protection; 4) continuing provisions for the people's basic needs by ensuring food security and securing meaningful employment; 5) rehabilitating Marawi and moving forward; 6) and building a more secure nation through hiring of more police officers and enhancing the capability of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and ensuring efficient administration of justice. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency