MANILA – The Senate and House of Representatives’ bicameral conference committee on Friday afternoon agreed on the final version of the P3.75-trillion 2019 national budget.
The two chambers of Congress approved the budget, whose passage late last year was delayed due to allegedly anomalous “insertions” favoring some departments.
The bill was ratified a few hours after the lawmakers approved it.
It was sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature.
House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr.’s motion to abandon the cash-based budgeting system this year has also been carried by the two contingents as it faced no objections.
The Philippine government is currently operating under a reenacted budget since the start of the year due to Congress’ failure to pass the national budget before the end of 2018.
Despite objections from Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the Congress still retained the “billion-peso insertions” and the P23-billion insertions made by some senators in the Public Works department and other agencies.
“Hopefully, the President and his economic managers will further scrutinize the final version of the budget bill as passed by Congress and exercise his veto power to excise the line items that clearly look and smell like pork,” Lacson said.
Lacson also said all funding for flood control projects, particularly dredging and desilting, have been realigned for the purchase of dredging machines and for additional funding for the Health department./PN