Proposed cash-based budget for 2019 ‘confusing’ lawmakers

MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya said a good number of lawmakers are confused over the implications of the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019, because it is the first time for the country to implement a cash-based budgeting system. 

Andaya said he called for an all-members caucus on Wednesday, August 8, to properly explain to his colleagues the meaning of a cash-based budgeting system. (READ: Duterte approves proposed P3.757-T national budget for 2019)  

“The DBM (Department of Budget and Management) [is shifting] from an obligation-based budget to a cash-based budget. So this is causing some confusing among the members. They're wondering why instead of the budget going up, it's going down,” said Andaya.

He said several officials of government agencies also have questions over the cash-based budgeting system.

"We've also done our own consultation with various departments. All of them seem to be at a loss what a cash budgeting system is and how it would affect their operations next year," said Andaya.

The Camarines Sur 1st District representative previously chaired the House committee on appropriations and he was also the budget chief during the presidency of Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“I was also trying to explain the side of the DBM, of course, on the basis of the seemingly lowered expenditure of our government. They (lawmakers) were proposing courses of action, some to the extreme of returning the budget, which of course we don't want to do,” said Andaya.

What is a cash-based budgeting system? A cash-based budgeting system means that agencies have to spend their funds and implement their projects within the year. 

Implementing government agencies are obliged to complete their project-contracts by the end of 2019 regardless of obstacles (like natural calamities) which may cause delays. Projects which a government agency cannot guarantee completing, will be removed from its proposed budget.

Andaya said lawmakers are concerned what would happen to projects that may take more than one year to construct or implement. (READ: Not enough funds for Bangsamoro block grant in proposed 2019 budget)

Under a cash-based budgeting system, an extended payment period of 3 months after the fiscal year would be implemented to give more leeway for the government to make its payments. 

Will the lawmakers’ concerns affect the passage of the 2019 budget? Andaya hopes not.

But this depends on how the DBM will explain the nuances of the cash-based budgeting system to legislators.

“We hope not… But the members’ decision might be affected if we don't get a clear answer in the coming days,” he said. 

Andaya said all lawmakers agreed to have “stronger communication” with the DBM for now so they can “really understand where they are coming from.” – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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