2019 budget deliberations to be hitch-free: Nograles

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

July 26, 2018, 3:53 pm

MANILA -- The chairman of the House appropriations committee on Thursday expressed confidence that the deliberations for the 2019 national budget will be hitch-free amid the sudden change in leadership at the Lower Chamber.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, committee chairman, said a transition team has been formed by newly-elected Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to ensure the smooth transfer of power, and among its immediate tasks is to submit the 2019 National Expenditure Program (NEP) to his panel.

The NEP, which would serve as the basis for the budget hearings set to start on July 31, has already been submitted by Malacañang to the House of Representatives.

Nograles said the next step now is for Speaker Arroyo’s office to soon hand down the NEP to the appropriations committee.

"May proseso eh (There is a process). [The NEP] has to go to the Office of the Speaker, the Office of the Speaker has to give it to the Appro Committee. We'll go through the proper channels. The procedural channels, we will follow,” he said.

Nograles earlier said the transition team is composed of Deputy Speakers Fredenil Castro, Raneo Abu, Miro Quimbo, Iloilo Rep. Arthur Defensor and Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya stressed that a “budget space” must be created in the 2019 budget for the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, as well as the increase in the tax share of local governments.

Andaya noted that these “must-fund” items were not factored in when the proposed PHP3.757-trillion budget was being finalized by Malacañang.

“At least PHP160 billion will be needed to finance these two. And this estimate is on the low side,” Andaya said.

Andaya said one way to fund these two items is to work within the ceiling of the proposed 2019 budget by realigning items, because the Constitution prohibits Congress to increase the appropriations recommended by the President.

“Or they can submit what is called a “budget errata”, or a new message from the President, which contains the proposed appropriations for BOL and IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment),” Andaya said.

The third option is through a supplemental budget, he noted.

“Hindi basta madaling hanapan ng pondo yung dalawa (It’s not an easy task to find funds for the two [items]). If the fiscal space is tight, it will be a challenge. We have two big elephants in the room,” Andaya said. (PNA)