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Senate President raises possibility of reenacted budget in 2019

The government may have to operate on a reenacted budget next year unless the impasse over cash-based budgeting is resolved, Senate President Vicente Sotto III warned on Sunday.

Sotto, in a text message, broached the possibility of a reenacted budget after the House of Representatives suspended deliberations on the proposed P3.757-trillion cash-based budget for 2019.

House leaders were opposed to cash-based budgeting and wanted a return to obligation-based appropriations to ensure more funding for their districts and constituencies.

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Under cash-based appropriation, government agencies must use their approved budgets within the fiscal year or lose them.
An obligation-based budget authorizes budget spending within a two-year period.

The 2019 budget proposal of P3.8 trillion is slightly lower than the current budget of P3.7 trillion proposed by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).

Sotto said there was still no consensus in the Senate whether to support cash-based or obligation-based budgeting.

“We have yet to find out the parameters of the proposal before we can intelligently agree to any,” he said.

On Saturday, the House leadership announced it would suspend all budget hearings until further notice “consistent with the position of the House to oppose cash-based budgeting.”

Consistent

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, chair of the House appropriations panel, said the House would give time to the DBCC to make the “necessary changes.”

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The cash-based approach, according to Nograles, caused the budgets of vital agencies to be slashed, including funds meant to subsidize free education in state colleges and universities.

The House must first pass the proposed General Appropriations Act before transmitting it to the Senate for concurrence.

The two chambers will meet in a bicameral conference committee to reconcile differences.

But Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate finance committee, expressed optimism that the House would be able to pass the budget on time.

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

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