Duterte may sign budget before Holy Week: Cabinet official

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 09 2019 09:12 AM | Updated as of Apr 09 2019 09:13 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the 31st Annual Convention of the Prosecutor's League of the Philippines at the Asturias Hotel in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on April 4, 2019. Toto Lozano, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte could sign the P3.7 trillion budget as early as this week, a Cabinet official said Monday, ending months of impasse that threatens to slow economic growth.

Signing the 2019 General Appropriations Act will give Duterte the opportunity to veto some line items rather than allow the measure to lapse into law, in which case, it will be approved as is, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

"Before Holy Week maaaring mapirmahan ng Pangulo just to be on the safe side na hindi siya mag-lapse into law," Nograles said.

(The President might sign the budget before Holy Week just to be on the safe side that it won't lapse into law.)

A bill, approved by both houses of congress, lapses into law if the President does not act on it 30 days after it is sent to his or her office.

Wrangling among lawmakers over alleged insertions in the 2019 budget has delayed its passage and the country has been running on the 2018 spending program since January.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III signed the 2019 budget in late March with "strong reservations."

From 6.2 percent in 2018, growth could slow to 4.2 to 4.9 percent if a reenacted budget is implemented the entire year, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in March.

Growth could slow to 6.1 to 6.3 percent if the reenacted budget lasts until April and to 4.9 to 5.1 percent if it extends to August, Pernia said.

Nograles said the government would catch-up with infrastructure projects once the 2019 budget is signed.