MANILA, Philippines – Senators approved a bill that would extend the shelf life of the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 until December 31, 2022.
Voting 22-0-0 on Monday, December 13, the Senate approved on third and final reading its amended version of House Bill (HB) No. 10373, which was earlier passed by the lower chamber in November.
Under the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the P4.5-trillion budget for the year will expire by December 31. Any unspent funds by this date would have to be reverted to the National Treasury.
This is because the Philippines observes a cash-based budgeting system, which requires government agencies to spend all their allotments within the fiscal year, or else have them revert to the National Treasury by the end of the term.
But if HB 10373 is passed into law, President Rodrigo Duterte’s government would have one more year to use the funds allocated for maintenance and other operating expenses and for capital outlay under the 2021 budget.
Statutory shares of local government units in the current national budget would also be available for release, obligation, and disbursement “until appropriations are fully utilized and funds fully disbursed.”
Construction of infrastructure projects funded under the 2021 budget would also continue until December 2022.
The budget validity extension, however, would not cover the funds for personnel services, so this will still expire by the end of 2021.
The P4.5-trillion GAA was the first pandemic-era national budget signed by Duterte. But the President has been drawing flak for his budget priorities, with high allocations for infrastructure and his controversial anti-insurgency task force amid the COVID-19 crisis. – Rappler.com