President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law extending the availability of the 2019 national budget until December 31, 2020, in a bid to allow the continuation of appropriations of funds for the items included in this year’s spending plan.
Republic Act (RA) 11464, inked by Duterte on December 20, amends Section 65 of RA 11260 or the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which originally allows the spending of the budget only until December 31 this year.
“All appropriations authorized in this Act shall be available for release and obligation for the purpose specified, and under the same special provisions applicable thereto, until December 31, 2020,” RA 11464 read.
The national government had no choice but operate on a reenacted 2018 budget from January to mid-April 2019 because Congress failed to pass this year’s budget on time due to alleged insertions and realignments made by some lawmakers.
As of September 4, around PHP3.491 trillion, or 95.3 percent of the PHP3.662-trillion 2019 budget has already been released, the Budget department reported in October this year.
There are still at least PHP1.161-trillion unobligated funds under the 2019 GAA.
About PHP324.758 billion of the PHP1.161-trillion unobligated funds are for maintenance and other operating expenses, while the remaining PHP339.53 billion are for capital outlays.
RA 11464 allows the use of this year’s unspent funds until the entire 2020.
“A report on these releases and obligations shall be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate of the Philippines, the House Committee on Appropriations, and the Senate Committee on Finance, either in printed form or by way of electronic document,” the newly-signed law read.
All laws, decrees, executive issuances, rules and regulations inconsistent with RA 11464 are hereby “repealed or modified accordingly,” the law states.
RA 11464, which was released by Malacañang just on Thursday, takes effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.
The law was signed, while the proposed PHP4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 was still under thorough review by Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Sunday could not say as to when the President will sign the budget spending plan for next year.
The 2020 budget plan, which was ratified by Congress on Dec. 11, allegedly contains around 1,253 budget items amounting to PHP83.219 billion which serve as congressmen’s “source” of their “list” of 742 projects worth PHP16.342 billion, as earlier claimed by Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Last week, Lacson alleged the provinces that received the biggest share of the supposed insertions are Albay (PHP670 million), Cavite (PHP580 million), Sorsogon (PHP570 million), Batangas (PHP502 million), Bulacan (PHP440 million), Pangasinan (PHP420 million), and Cebu (PHP410 million).
Panelo ensured that the Chief Executive would wield his veto power to remove the funds inserted in the proposed 2020 General Appropriations Act that will be found violative of the 1987 Constitution. (PNA)