THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) wants lawmakers to take part in the preparation of the annual national budget even before the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) is submitted by Malacañang to Congress.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the DBM wants to “take a second look” at the traditional way of preparing the proposed budget to avoid controversial provisions which could lead to a presidential veto of some items in the annual budget.
“That is what we want to do and that is what Budget Secretary (Wendel) Avisado wants to do – even before the President submits the budget to Congress, there is consultation with the proper committees of both the House and the Senate, instead of them preparing it and the House revising it and the Senate doing its own revision,” Cayetano said in a statement.
The Speaker said enacting the appropriations bill will be smoother and faster “if we can do the budget together.”
The Constitution mandates the President to submit the National Expenditure Program (NEP) to Congress which is prepared by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) led by the DBM.
The law provides that the budget bill shall originate from the House, to which the “power of the purse” belongs, while the Senate has the power to concur or propose amendments.
In April last year, President Duterte signed the 2019 appropriations law after vetoing the P95-billion worth of alleged last-minute pork barrel fund insertions made by the previous House leadership.
The issue delayed the signing of the budget after it led to an exchange of allegations between the two chambers which resulted in an economic slowdown in the first two quarters before the economy recovered in the latter part of last year.
Late last year, the House and the Senate approved the 2020 outlay to avoid another delay and to sustain such recovery and the President signed the appropriations bill last Jan. 6 without vetoing a single item.
House leaders backed the DBM’s proposal, saying a closer coordination between the executive and the legislative will ensure a “zero veto.”
Majority leader Martin Romualdez said the planned prior consultation with members of Congress in the preparation of the national budget “is consistent with the constitutional mandate that the power of the purse lies with the legislature.”
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said discussing the appropriations measure’s details with lawmakers before submitting it to the House of Representatives “would guarantee its expeditious passage and ensure no pork, no parking and no insertions of funds.”
“The consultation is meant to ensure a 20-20 vision national budget that would continue the road to a more peaceful and progressive Philippines and make the life of Filipinos more comfortable,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas said the DBM’s effort to forge “better linkages and coordination will ensure the swift passage of the expenditure program and avoid a presidential veto.”
“This would also help guarantee that needed projects and programs, including response and rehabilitation to various calamities are well considered from the very start,” he said.
Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1Pacman party-list said the President will have enough time to sign the next budget well before the end of the year which means that the DBM will be able to release funds on the first day of 2021.
“Early disbursement of funds will in turn mean that we will be able to sustain economic recovery, which started in the latter part of last year after the slowdown we had due to the delay in the enactment of the 2019 budget,” he said.