Senate puts 2019 budget hearings on hold
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate decided to defer its hearings on the proposed 2019 budget, following a caucus of majority senators on Monday, August 13.
This came after the House of Representatives also suspended its hearings "until further notice," citing as reason its opposition to the proposed cash-based budgeting system.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said it was finance committee chairperson Loren Legarda who ordered the suspension.
The chamber will decided on Tuesday, August 14, whether or not to continue the rest of the budget hearings scheduled for the week.
Senator Joel Villanueva, for his part, said the senators are just anticipating a continued standoff between the House and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The DBM and Congress are set to meet on Tuesday.
"GAB (General appropriations bill) comes from the House. We are just anticipating what would happen with the standoff between House and DBM. There will be more clarity tomorrow," Villanueva said in a text message.
Technically, the general appropriations bill or the national budget has to be first passed by the House before it gets transmitted to the Senate. But in practice, the Senate holds parallel hearings on the agencies' allocations while waiting for the measure's passage in the House to ensure an efficient process.
Since the start of budget hearings last July 31, lawmakers have already expressed confusion over the proposed change in the budgeting system.
Supposedly the first cash-based budget of the government, the proposed 2019 budget amounts to P3.757 trillion, representing 19.3% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for next year.
This amount is slightly lower compared to the P3.767-trillion 2018 budget. (READ: Education, infra get a third of proposed P3.757-T 2019 nat'l budget)
In response to the House, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said they are prepared to reenact this year's allocation if Congress rejects the proposed 2019 budget. – Rappler.com