House to approve 9 month-extension of 2019 budget validity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 28) — To make up for the delayed approval of the 2019 budget, a lawmaker said Wednesday the House of Representatives plans to extend its validity for nine months.

During CNN Philippines’ "Building for the Future Part 2” forum, Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda said that the House of Representatives will approve the request of the economic managers to extend the life of the 2019 budget.

"We are approving a nine-month validity of the budget this year,” he said in answer to concerns raised about underspending that delayed projects under the government’s massive Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

The ₱3.7 trillion 2019 budget was passed only in April this year, delayed by a stalemate between the House of Representatives and the Senate on alleged pork insertions.

This resulted in the government missing its target infrastructure spending by 21 percent for the first half of the year, using up only ₱311.4 billion for lack of funds.

READ: Infrastructure spending misses first-half target by 21%

Meanwhile, the economy grew by 5.6 and 5.5 percent in the first two quarters of the year respectfully.

Soecioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia attributed this growth slowdown to the El Niño weather disturbance, global trade, and infrastrucutre delays. The government targets a gross domestic product of 6 to 6.5 percent for the full year.

READ: Economic growth slows further in Q2

Should the budget be extended, the funds that were not disbursed in the first months of the year can still be used for the next nine months of 2020, instead of going back to the national treasury.

These funds can be used to catch up on the delays in infrastructure projects.

In the same forum, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade admitted that the budget delayed their infrastructure projects by 30 to 35 percent.

Along with extending the 2019 budget, Salceda noted that the House of Representatives plans to pass the 2020 budget bill by early October.