3 lawmakers eye smoother budget process

February 04, 2020

AT least three House leaders are eyeing a smoother process for the preparation and approval of the annual national budget.

In separate statements, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Deputy Speaker and 1PACMAn Rep. Michael Romero said the planned meeting with the officials of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is a good step to improve the budget process.

Cayetano said the House leaders and DBM will meet to “take a second look” at the traditional way of preparing the proposed budget and presenting it to the two chambers of Congress.

 He said the plan is for the executive and legislative branches to work together in putting together the yearly outlay. 

“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,” the House leader stressed.

Under the Constitution, it is the President who submits the annual budget to Congress. The budget bill, by mandate of the Charter, originates from the House. The Senate has the power to concur or propose amendments.

Aside from speeding up the budget enactment process, the plan of the House and the DBM would obviate the possibility of the President vetoing or rejecting certain appropriations in the Congress-approved spending bill.

For his part, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said that 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.

Romualdez pointed out that it will hasten consideration of the President’s budget proposal not only in the House Committee on Appropriations but in plenary as well. 

“Remember that the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the 2020 national budget in record time on September 20, 2019.   Historically, the proposed national budget is approved in the House of Representatives not earlier than October,” the solon said.

“The speed at which the 2020 national budget was approved is unprecedented. The House leadership under Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano just needed only 20 working days to finish the job of approving a pork-free and bereft of any illegal parking of funds and insertions national budget,” he added.

Romero also said that the DBM plan augurs well for the timely passage of the proposed national budget for next year.

Romero also said this will mean that the DBM will be able to release funds on Day 1 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.

The DBM plan will also ensure the inclusion in the 2021 outlay of funds needed for containing the novel coronavirus in affected districts and for the rehabilitation of communities devastated by the eruption of Taal volcano and last year’s calamities.