Senate approves on 2nd reading bill extending 2019 budget validity

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 20 2019 11:28 AM

MANILA - The Senate on Wednesday approved on second reading a bill extending the validity of some portions of 2019 budget until next year, saying government agencies were unable to fully disburse their funds due to the late passage of this year’s spending bill.

Extending the 2019 capital outlay (CO) and maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) funds until December 31, 2020 will allow departments to provide more services to the public, Senate Finance Committee chair Sonny Angara said in his sponsorship speech.

“Without the approval of this measure, precious funds might not be spent and our people will experience delays in services,” he said, referring to Senate Bill 1153.

If the 2019 budget’s validity is not extended, 2,900 classrooms will not be constructed, 590 schools will be left without electricity and 11.677 million activity sheets for kinder and grade 1 will not be printed and delivered, he said.

About 3,000 health infrastructure projects will be left hanging without the extension, he said.

“Not even 1 percent of health facilities budget has been spent... [These] projects are still in the procurement stage due to delays in the passage of the 2019 budget,” Angara said.

Congress approved the 2019 spending bill in April, 4 months after the usual December deadline after several deadlocks between the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Several senators refused to pass the House’s version due to supposed unlawful insertions that allegedly favored the districts of then-House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The World Bank earlier said the Philippines would fail to miss its 2019 growth target due to the delayed passage of the 2019 budget, which resulted in lower government spending in the first quarter.

Senate Bill 1153 will have to be passed on third and final reading before it President Rodrigo Duterte can sign it into law.

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a counterpart measure, earlier this week.