The national budget for 2019 may not be signed into law before the end of the year, according to the new budget calendar transmitted by the Senate to the Department of Budget and Management last November 19, 2018.
The latest update from the Senate marks January 25 next year as the earliest possible date for Congress ratification, and February 7, 2019 as the latest possible date. This means that a reenacted budget may have to be implemented for the first three months of the next fiscal year.
According to DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno, no new projects can start until the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) is approved, and the anticipated delay in its implementation will likely result to a 5-month implementation gap for new projects.
“We want to be able to frontload projects at the start of the year, if possible, especially infrastructure projects,” he said. “The failure of Congress to pass the GAA before December 31 will not allow us to do that. Add to this the election ban from March to May and you have a 5-month implementation gap for our infrastructure projects.”
Similarly, capital spending proposed for 2019 will have to wait until the 2019 budget is passed and becomes effective. The 2018 capital outlays cannot be reenacted because projects funded in 2018 are assured to have been obligated or done in 2018 and no new projects can be authorized to start without authority from Congress, with few exceptions.
For example, large projects covered by Multi-Year Obligational Authority (MYOA) will not be adversely affected.
Meanwhile, personnel services (salaries, wages, pension and retirement, and the like) and the maintenance and other operating expenses are deemed reenacted. They will be based on the 2018 level. Salary adjustments for civilian and military personnel programmed for 2019 will have to wait.
The Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for Local Government Units (LGUs) and debt service, however, are automatically appropriated, and, therefore, will be provided budgetary allocations based on the 2019 budget as proposed by the executive.
In a previous statement, the budget chief said that the President has given Congress “more than enough time to scrutinize the budget”.
While the President is mandated by the Constitution to submit the President’s budget to Congress within 30 days after he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA), the President had decided to submit the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF) on the day of his SONA.
“The President has done his job. The ball is in Congress’ court. It is the collective responsibility of legislators to approve the general appropriations bill before they go on a holiday break,” he said.
“Duty first before leisure,” he added.