'I don't think it's time': Nograles says House stands by obligation-based budgeting

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 15 2018 07:29 PM | Updated as of Aug 15 2018 07:33 PM

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MANILA - The House of Representatives will stand by an obligation-based budgeting because cash-based system would result in budget cuts in several services promised by the government, a lawmaker said. 

Enacting a cash-based budget would slash funds for projects such as the health facilities enhancement program and the construction of school buildings, appropriations committee chair Rep. Karlo Nograles told ANC's Headstart Wednesday.

"I don’t think it’s time to do the cash-based budgeting now because what essentially DBM, DBCC is proposing is that we press a reset button to enable other agencies to catch up with their spending," Nograles said. 

Cash-based budgeting allows government to appropriate, bid out, complete and pay projects within a single year. 

Obligation-based budgeting, meanwhile, allows the government to do the same but spread out across 2 years or more. 

"Ang naging effect nga sa budget is they slash all new projects that’s not the proper message, that’s not what we want to tell the people," Nograles added. 

The health facilities for the barangays got zero allocations under the cash-based budgeting while the construction of school buildings in 2019 were cut down to 4,110 from 47,000 this year, he said. 

In a separate interview with DZMM, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno clarified that the budget cuts were in agencies with untouched funds.

"Sabi ko this year bawasan muna natin after 2 consecutive years of P100 billion plus for classrooms, hindi pa gumagalaw yung 2017 appropriations," Diokno said.

Diokno said he also asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque to study why some allocated funds haven't been used yet.

This scheme, expected to solve underspending, would also pressure agencies and contractors to finish projects or parts of the projects within the fiscal year, Socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia said. 

It's not enough for the projects to get "obligated," Diokno said. 

"Kasi nakikita nila na maraming proyekto rin kayang gawin kung may contractor sila, sapat na sa kanila na maobliga lang, not necessarily magawa ang proyekto. Kami naman on our part mas gusto namin na magawa na talaga," Diokno said. 

The President is hopeful that Congress will eventually pass the national budget for 2019, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing Tuesday. 

House Majority Leader Camarines Sur 1st District Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said Wednesday that the House of Representatives will resume deliberations on the 2019 budget after announcing a suspension last Saturday.

The resumption comes after a compromise was reached with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), he said.

-- with a report by RG Cruz