House, budget officials agree to restore some cuts for 2019

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 28) — The House of Representatives and budget officials have agreed to restore cuts on appropriations for the Health, Education, and Public Works and Highways departments for 2019, House Majority Leader Nonoy Andaya said Tuesday.

This came about after House leaders and budget officials met Tuesday to resolve their differences on the proposed 2019 budget.

"Unang-una nag-agree kami na may kakulangan. That's one. Secondly, na ibabalik naming yung mga kakulangan na yun, or selected lang, di naman kaya lahat. And then that we would have a unified voice on this matter. And we want a new budget. That's clear," he said.

Andaya said this will be done by realigning the budget of some agencies or realigning allocations for unprogrammed funds to those that need additional funding.

"We're looking at options, maybe we can source some from unprogrammed funds or maybe we can source some from supplemental budgets. Now, we're doing the numbers crunching. We're also looking at revenue side para masuportahan karagadang programa ng gobyerno," the lawmaker said.

Andaya have also agreed on a mixed cash- and obligation-based budget.

Under this scheme, the life of the budget will be extended to one and a half years for payables or projects which have been obligated and needs and extended time to complete, the lawmaker explained.

"We agreed that the life of the budget will be extended to one year and a half. In that sense, hybrid ka na... for payables. For projects which have been obligated and need to be finished within the year, they'll be giving an extension to finish it," he said.

The Budget Department earlier submitted the 2019 National Expenditure Program that follows a cash-based budgeting system, allowing funding for projects to be initiated and completed within a year.

Andaya said they are also looking into passing a supplemental budget or a bill providing additional funding for some projects that will not be included in the General Appropriations Bill.

"Necessarily we need to have additional income or there should be program loans that have come in within the year which can fund the supplemental budget," he said.

Andaya said the House is hoping to pass the 2019 General Appropriations Bill on final reading on October 12.

Andaya assured the public lawmakers and budget officials agreed to dispense with reenacted budget, or carrying over the current budget to next year.

"The meeting was more on getting all parties on the same page. Clarifying that there will be no re-enacted budget, that we want a new budget. Both sides explained the merits why we want a hybrid type of budget. Secretary Diokno gave the merits of a purely cash-based budget, but in the end, we agreed na magtulungan," he said.