Diokno on alleged P75-B budget 'insertions': Not my job to pick contractors

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2018 12:43 PM | Updated as of Dec 12 2018 12:44 PM

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno attends an ASEAN meeting in Manila in this file photo. Diokno on Dec. 12 said his department was not in charge of selecting contractors after he was accused of being behind P75 billion in insertions to the 2019 budget. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Wednesday he was not in charge of choosing contractors for government projects after a lawmaker said he was behind P75 billion in "insertions" to the 2019 national budget.

Diokno also warned against not passing the 2019 General Appropriations Act before the end of the year, saying a reenactment of this year's expenditure program would "interrupt growth momentum."

"I cannot micromanage all the projects. We're not expected to do that. Can you imagine having 100,000 projects?" Diokno told a breakfast forum in Manila.

"That's the job of the implementing agencies. We release the money to them," he said.

Majority Leader Rolando Andaya questioned Diokno on the alleged insertions during the House of Representatives "question hour" on Tuesday.

Andaya also earlier claimed that one contractor was favored under the 2018 budget, as he made the case for closer scrutiny of proposed allocations for next year.

The House majority leader served as budget secretary of Speaker Gloria Arroyo when she was president, under whose term Congress failed to pass the budget on time.

Diokno said about P200 billion in funds "won't be around" if the country operates on a reenacted budget at the start of 2019.

"Our raw targets, our carefully crafted expansionary fiscal policy, if you reduce budget, you interrupt growth momentum," Diokno said.

A smaller budget could shave off 1.1 to 2.3 percentage points from gross domestic product growth next year. This means the economy would grow by 4.7 to 5.9 percent when it should have expanded by 7 percent, he said.

There could also be as many as 600,000 job cuts and 200,000 to 400,000 people could be "pushed into poverty," he said.