The House deliberations for the proposed 2019 national budget will begin as scheduled on Tuesday, July 31, House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Congressman Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles said.
“As promised under Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the per-agency debates on the P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 will start this week. The House recognizes the importance of the immediate passage of the national budget and we in the Appropriations panel are bent on approving the best possible General Appropriations Act (GAA) in a timely manner,” Nograles said in a media release on Sunday.
The Davao City representative has confirmed officially receiving the Malacañang’s proposed National Expenditure Program (NEP) from Speaker Arroyo’s office. Submitted by the Palace to Congress last Monday, the NEP will serve as the basis for the 2019 GAA.
Under the proposed 2019 GAA, education will remain a top priority of the Duterte administration, followed by the public works department and the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Health, Transportation, Agriculture, Judiciary and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Among the first to be scrutinized by the Nograles panel are the proposed budgets of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Finance (DOF), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
“Kudos to the transition committee for facilitating the smooth transfer of duties from the old to the new leadership,” said Nograles, referring to the team of congressmen who paved the way for Pampanga Representative and former president Arroyo’s assumption of the House Speakership.
“Like the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), there was no way that Speaker Arroyo would allow the delay of the budget deliberations. The House will not be remiss in exercising the power of the purse,” he said.
It can be recalled that the BOL was ratified last Tuesday, July 24, a day after Arroyo assumed the Speakership. President Rodrigo Duterte has since affixed his signature to the law amid much celebration.
“Now, we are poised to continue the streak of approving the budget on time, without any re-enacted budget under President Duterte,” said Nograles, who took over the Appropriations panel at the start of the 17th Congress in July 2016.
The proposed 2019 national budget is cash-based as opposed to traditional, multi-year obligations-based budgeting. The DBM has described it as the more efficient budgeting method since it limits incurring obligations and disbursing payments for goods delivered and services rendered, inspected, and accepted within the fiscal year.
“Of course we have to scrutinize the wisdom of this new system considering certain realities in the implementation of critical government projects. We also have to weigh in on its effects on long-term big ticket projects,” Nograles said.
Nograles said the House of Representatives will exercise its power of the purse on the basis of exhaustive hearings on the proposed NEP.
Also scheduled to be tackled by the House this week are the proposed budgets of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Department of Agriculture (DA), National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
The Appropriations Committee has the crucial task of looking for sources of funds to finance the implementation of government programs, including those aimed at benefiting “probinsyanos” and improving the quality of their lives.
Nograles had earlier vowed to champion the cause of countryside residents once talks on the 2019 budget begin. PR