Budget impasse dismays Duterte

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2019 01:54 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte was dismayed by the impasse on the proposed 2019 budget in Congress, a Malacañang official said Monday.

In a text message, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the President is aware of the budget impasse “and I'm sure he is dismayed at the legislators’ inaction, which will delay his infrastructure projects.”

“We are still hopeful that the legislators will perform their duties as President Duterte and his economic team did by submitting the President’s budget on the day of the SONA (State of the Nation Address), or 30 days before the constitutional deadline,” Medialdea adde.

The bicameral deliberations on the 2019 budget have been marred with allegations of insertions of “pork barrel,” a term which refers to lump sum amounts in the budget which has already been outlawed by the Supreme Court.

Amid allegations of irregularities in the preparations of the 2019 budget, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he might just opt for a reenacted budget for this year.

Another issue delaying the approval of the 2019 budget is the tiff between House Appropriations Committee chair Rolando Andaya and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

Andaya has accused Diokno of inserting some P75 billion in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways to favor his in-laws who own a construction firm. Diokno has denied the allegations.

Andaya also demanded that the budget department submit a report on the remaining balance of the 2018 budget. He said there will be no bicameral conference committee report on the 2019 budget if the DBM would not release its 2018 savings.

Medialdea issued the statement 3 days before the 17th Congress goes on a break from Feb. 7 to May 19 for the election campaign period.

The government is currently operating on a reenacted budget and the Palace and finance officials have warned that remaining in this setup could affect the country’s economic growth for 2019.