Unlike the House, Senate backs cash-based budget system

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Senate President Tito Sotto. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) — In contrast to the stand of the House of Representatives, the Senate expressed support for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)'s proposal of a cash-based national budget.

In a text message, Senate President Tito Sotto said the Senate in a caucus agreed to go for the new system, which would only allot resources for projects that could be initiated and finished within the year.

"We are supporting the DBM's budget proposal," he said.

The House of Representatives (HOR) earlier rejected DBM's proposal in favor of an obligation-based national budget, which extends funding for lawmaker's projects for up to two years. It has suspended budget deliberations to give time to the Budget Department to make the necessary changes.

Sotto admits the disagreement of both Houses on the budget might cause a delay in the approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act, which allotts P3.757-trillion for national expenditure as approved by the President in July.

Senate hearings on the 2019 national budget have yet to resume.

"All hearings will be based on the National Expenditure Program (NEP) and not the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) yet. The GAB has to emanate from the HOR.The ball is now with the HOR," he said.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Karlo Nograles said they respect the decision of the Senate.

"The House and the Senate have their respective views on the budget but ultimately we agree on hammering out a budget that will address the many needs of our people. Our priority right now is to find common ground and reconcile our different positions on where our resources will be spent and how these will be spent," Nograles said in a text message.

Nograles earlier argued the cash-based budget system will greatly lower capital or infrastructure spending of government agencies.

Malacañang had said Monday Cabinet officials were not daunted by a re-enacted budget should deliberations on the 2019 GAA remain suspended.  A re-enacted budget means the budget for the previous year, in amount and allocations, will be the same as the coming year.

Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon called on the House to resume the budget deliberations, saying that they should not delay it since the 2019 midterm polls is drawing near.

He also said he is not aware of any procedure allowing the House to return the proposed budget to the executive.

"So, stop these foolish talks of a reenacted budget. It's not a good practice and it will not lead us anywhere," Drilon said.

Drilon added it would only make President Rodrigo Duterte look "weak" for being unable to pass his own budget.