In 2021, the Philippine government will be working with 3 major fund appropriations after President Rodrigo Duterte signed laws extending the availability of the 2020 national budget and funds under pandemic emergency law Bayanihan 2.
Malacañang on Tuesday, January 6, released the signed Republic Act No. 11519 and RA 11520. Duterte had previously certified the measures as urgent.
RA 11519 extends the availability of funds appropriated through the Bayanihan 2 or Bayanihan to Recover As One Act until June 30, 2021. RA 11520 extends the availability of the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget until December 31, 2021.
This means that the government agencies may spend or release the remainder of the P165.5 billion set aside by the Bayanihan 2 law to address the pandemic and its economic impacts even 6 months after the measure was supposed to expire on December 19, 2020.
This includes the P25.5-billion standby fund which was initially supposed to be available for obligations only until March this year.
Lawmakers decided to extend the Bayanihan 2 after observing the slow disbursement of the emergency funds last year, despite the urgency for government programs to address joblessness, hunger, and COVID-19 testing and contact tracing needs, among others.
No extension of Duterte powers
However, RA 11519 clearly states that it does not extend Duterte’s powers to reprogram, reallocated, and realign from savings on other items in the 2020 budget.
These powers had expired last December 19, as provided under Section 2 of the law.
Working with two national budgets
Because of the extension of the 2020 budget, the Duterte administration can continue spending on 2020 programs even this year, which has its own P4.5-trillion budget crafted to be responsive to the ongoing pandemic.
The new date for the expiration of the 2020 budget, December 31, 2021, is only 3 months away from the start of the campaign season for the 2022 national elections.
Lawmakers had also blamed the pandemic for delays in many government programs intended for 2020. An extension is necessary because, with the cash-based budgeting system implemented by the executive branch, all unspent funds would have reverted to the treasury at the end of the year.
RA 11520 now allows the government to continue spending for infrastructure projects that have already undergone their procurement process in 2020.
“For FY 2020, the appropriations for infrastructure capital outlays, including subsidy releases to GOCCs for infrastructure projects, shall be valid for obligation until December 31, 2021, while the completion of construction, inspection, and payment shall be made not later than December 21, 2021,” reads the measure. – Rappler.com