Palace on passage of 2019 budget: ‘Hope springs eternal’

MANILA MalacaAang on Monday said it remains confident that the PHP3.757-trillion budget for 2019 will be passed even with only three days left before Congress goes on recess in time for campaign season.

There's still three days left, let's just wait. We're still confident that it will be passed, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

We eagerly await the passage of the General Appropriations Bill. They know it will bring adverse consequences if we have a reenacted budget, he added.

Panelo reiterated that failing to pass the GAB will delay infrastructure projects under the government's Build, Build, Build program.

However, should Congress fail to approve the 2019 budget before recess, Panelo was optimistic it would be passed when sessions resume on May 20 after the mid-term elections.

Then it (projects) will be delayed. So hopefully when Congress resumes meeting again, they will have to pass, Panelo said.

Hope springs eternal. We'll hope for the best, he added.

Panelo earlier said Palace expected smooth-sailing bicameral conference committee deliberations. However, there remains to be a budget impasse over alleged "insertions" in the 2019 budget.

Panelo said despite this delay, the President will not interfere with the legislative process.

In a separate message, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea echoed Panelo, hoping that the lawmakers will eventually pass the 2019 budget.

We are still hopeful that the legislators will perform their constitutional duties as President Duterte and his economic team did by submitting the President's budget on the day of the SONA, or 30 days before the constitutional deadline, Medialdea said.

Medialdea also said the President is dismayed by lawmakers' passivity on the 2019 budget.

He (Duterte) is aware and I am sure he is dismayed at the legislators' inaction which will delay his infrastructure projects, he said.

Earlier, the House panel in the bicameral conference committee on the national budget asked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to submit a report on the remaining balance of the 2018 national budget otherwise it will not approve the bicam report on the 2019 budget.

House committee on appropriations chairman Rolando Andaya insisted that the savings report is needed in order to pass the 2019 national budget.

Panelo assured Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno will soon issue a statement on the matter. (With reports from Jhopay Arellano-OJT/PNA)

Source; Philippines News Agency

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