Senate OKs bill extending validity of 2019 budget

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to extend the validity of the 2019 national budget until next year.

Nineteen of the senators present in the hearing voted to approve House Bill No. 5437 which would allow agencies to spend until December 2020 the funds for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlays in the 2019 national budget.

The bill amends Section 65 of Republic Act 11260 or the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Finance committee, said the measure’s approval will greatly help all government agencies involved in relief efforts such as the recent series of earthquakes in Mindanao.

He added that the bill will also ensure the availability of over P12 billion from the Calamity Fund and other quick response funds lodged with various agencies.

“Through this measure, we would be extending a big helping hand to the Executive Branch which has had to operate during the first few months of this year on a re-enacted budget and the rest under pressure to spend up to P3.687 trillion of total available appropriations in a span of seven to eight months approximately amidst the election ban on government projects this year,” Angara said in a statement.

“We do this because under RA 11260 or the 2019 GAA and Executive Order No. 91 on the implementation of a cash-budgeting system, all appropriations that were not released, obligated or paid by the Dec. 31, 2019 shall lapse and revert to the national treasury,” he added.

It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte signed in April the P3.7-trillion national budget with vetoed provisions following alleged insertions in the bill, which led to its impasse and forced the government to operate on a reenacted 2018 budget.

“The Senate is not oblivious to the travails of the Executive Branch and we must help them. We must see to it that the national budget we approved for 2019 would benefit our people in terms of better services and more efficient public spending,” said Angara.

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