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House okays P3.7 trillion nat'l gov't budget

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QUEZON CITY– The House of Representatives headed by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has approved the proposed P3.757-trillion national government budget for 2019.


The approval comes more than a month since the chamber approved the budget bill on second reading, after three weeks of debates on the floor.


The appropriations bill will then be forwarded to the Senate for deliberations and approval.


The budget bill reportedly included the P52 billion in alleged pork barrel funds the House earlier realigned from appropriations of the Department of Public Works and Highways.


With 196 affirmative votes, eight negative votes, and no abstention, the Lower House approved Bill 8169 or the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).


Earlier in the day, Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. assured that the 2019 national budget would be in line with the vision of President Rodrigo Duterte.


Andaya also dispelled allegations that the House version of the 2019 budget is "pork-filled", as he allayed fears of a reenacted budget for next year.


"Everything we are doing here is compliant with all the pertinent laws and the Supreme Court decision," he said.


House appropriations vice chairperson Maria Carmen Zamora, sponsor of the bill, said the P3.757-trillion budget is the first annual cash-based budget of the Philippine government anchored on the theme, “Building a Bright Future for the Philippines and its People”.


The theme is consistent with the Duterte administration’s goal of transforming the country into a middle-income society where everyone can make his or her life better through provision of infrastructure and human capital development.


She said the cash-based budgeting system promotes better planning and coordination among agencies, raises credibility of the government with its suppliers and contractors, supports the government's expansionary policy by addressing underspending, and modernizes the budgeting system.


Zamora said the P3.757 trillion cash-based budget is equivalent to 19.3 percent of gross domestic product, which is marginally higher compared to the 18.9 percent in 2018.


This is about P433 billion or 13 percent higher than the 2018 cash-based equivalent of P3.324 trillion.


Budget bills emanate from the House of Representatives, although the Senate also needs to pass its own version. Failure to pass the budget bill before yearend will mean the government will run on a reenacted budget.

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