Solons want ‘obligation-based’ budget

  • Written by Jester P. Manalastas
  • Published in Top Stories
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LAWMAKERS will press the Department of Budget and Management to make the proposed 2019national budget “obligation-based” so that projects for the people will not be compromised.

Chairman of the House committee on appropriations Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nogrles said he already relayed to the DBM the sentiments of the solons on the cash-based budget system.

“They sent emissaries, I relayed to the emissaries the concern and sentiments of the House. They will relay to their principal. And we will get feedback on Monday,” Nograles said in an interview.

The House leaders also said they discussed possible options to resolve the impasse.

According to Nograles,  many of his colleagues in the House will exhort the DBCC “to amend the budget to one that is more attuned to the situation on the ground.”

“We will revert to an obligations-based budget. Hindi lang naman kami sa Kongreso may isyu sa cash-based budgeting; kahit ang mga myembro ng gabinete na humarap sa amin, may mga isyu din dito. The requirements of a cash-based budget simply do not reflect the realities of governance,” Nograles stressed.

Cash-based budget means agencies must spend all the approved budget for the projects within the year or they will not get it anymore in the following year.

Since time immemorial, the budget has always been “obligation-based” meaning agencies can retain their budget for finish or unfinished projects at the end of the year.

Lawmakers in the House have crossed party lines to oppose the DBM’s new cash-based budgeting system, which has resulted in across-the-board cuts in the budgets of critical agencies like the Department of Education, the Department of Health, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Nograles was adamant that Congress’ ongoing clash with the DBM over the 2019 budget would not result in a reenacted budget, even as he assured the public that Congress would pass a General Appropriations Act that would benefit the people and would be consistent with the development agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The budgets of the affected agencies were reduced by P77 billion, P35 billion and 95 billion, respectively.

“Our job in Congress is to ensure the passage of a budget that is in line with the vision of the President, a budget that benefits all Filipinos, especially those in the regions. Dito sa cash-based budget ng DBM, lugi ang Pilipino, lalo na ang mga probinsyano (in this cash-based budget of the DBM, the Filipinos, especially probinsyanos, are shortchanged),” Nograles stressed.

Nograles added that the ongoing budget deliberations in the House of Representatives “have opened our eyes to the drawbacks of the proposed cash-based budgeting system.”

“This is the complete opposite of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ thrust of the Duterte Administration. The people expect more infrastructure, more assistance from government. Instead, the budget presented by the DBM is all about ‘Slash, Slash, Slash,’ which would result in fewer of everything: fewer roads, fewer classrooms, fewer government hospital facilities,” he said.