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House seeks budget ceiling for 2020

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has asked the Budget department to submit to the Oversight Committee the budget ceilings for each government agency in the proposed 2020 budget.

She said this would prevent the controversy over the P75 billion that was programmed in the 2019 budget. 

Arroyo led the oversight hearing on the budget ceilings of the departments and agencies for the 2020 budget and the utilization of the 2018 budget.

Assistant Budget Secretary Rolando Toledo said the government was eyeing a P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, which would be 9.1 percent higher than this year’s P3.757-trillion appropriation.

Arroyo said it was important to determine the budget ceilings to prevent the controversy created by the failure of the Budget department to disclose the new budget ceiling of the Department of Public Works and Highways to the House of Representatives during the budget deliberations last year.

“The controversy over the 2019 budget began with the ceiling issue, and that’s why we need to know the ceiling now,” Arroyo said. 

“As we understood as it was presented to us in July 2019, the DPWH had a ceiling of less than P500 million, but when the GAA came, it was almost P600 million. That’s why we want to be clarified now. That’s something we want to avoid in this coming budget.”

Arroyo said when the budget was presented to the House of Representatives last year, the DPWH said it had a budget ceiling of P482 billion. 

However, when the National Expenditure Program was printed and given to the House of Representatives, Public Works’ budget ceiling was actually P555 million, or a difference of P75 billion. When Secretary Mark Villar was asked about the higher budget, he told the congressmen that he did not know anything about it.

In accordance with Arroyo’s directive to make the budget more transparent and fair, then House Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya moved for the itemization and equalization of the P75 billion to comply with the Constitution and the Supreme Court decision.

However, such move by the House leadership was questioned by the congressmen who were affected by the itemization.

The same items were, however, vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte, saying they were not part of the priority projects of his administration.

This developed as Toledo said “[The P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget] includes the estimated P233.3 billion that will be paid under the extended payment period of succeeding year.

“Line agencies will need to contract out and implement items during the fiscal year,” Toledo said.

Of the proposed total national budget for next year, around 44 percent is allocated for projects that include the ongoing programs and activities of the various departments and agencies under the reenacted 2018 budget, or the so-called Tier 1.

“Automatic appropriations―for example the internal revenue allotment, debt-lending and special purpose funds like the local government units’ special shares and contingent fund, among others―will account for another P1.345.7 billion or 32.8 percent of the total budget,” Toledo said.  

“That will give us a total of P3.2 trillion of Tier 1.” 

On the other hand, a total of P911.6 billion will be allocated for the Tier 2 projects, or the new or expanded programs and activities amounting to 22.2 percent of the total cash-based budget, Toledo said.

He also said among the priority programs of the government under the 2020 national budget were infrastructure development, and for the implementation of new and critical government programs and policies such as the Universal Health Care Act, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Rice Tariffication Act, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programs Act, and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Act.

The other priority programs of the government to be funded under next year’s appropriations are the K-12 program, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, the Unconditional Cash Transfer Program, the Risk Resiliency Program and the Coastal Resource Management Program.

READ: It’s done: House rests case on 2019 budget

READ: Budget veto looms over 'insertions'

READ: Rody signs new budget, vetoes P95-billion projects

Topics: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo , Oversight Committee , Department of Public Works and Highways , House of Representatives , National Expenditure Program
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