A US government-style shutdown is highly unlikely here, even while the Philippine government’s proposed 2019 national budget remains pending before Congress, with the Department of Budget and Management directing state agencies to obligate their first quarter funding requirements.
In a Circular Letter dated January 3, 2019, Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the funds to be released is only for actual requirements and exclude several Personnel Services items.
The excluded PS items are bonuses, cash gifts, incentives as well as clothing allowance, budget for creation of new positions, and premium payments for PhilHealth and Employees Compensation Insurance Premium.
Budget for maintenance and other operating expenditures and for capital outlays for this quarter will also be released for ongoing foreign assisted or locally-funded projects, with the amount based under the 2018 budget or the programmed 2019 budget “whichever has the lower amount.”
The Circular Letter said agencies may submit Special Budget Request for the issuance of Special Allotment Release Order for several items like centrally-managed items and funds for retired employees and pension benefits of uniformed personnel.
In a statement, Diokno assured state workers that the agency “will continue to oversee the budgetary operations of the national government, especially as it runs on a re-enacted budget for presumably the first quarter of 2019.”
“We will do what we can to minimize the damage to the Philippine economy, particularly public construction,” he said.
“The sooner the 2019 GAA (General Appropriations Act) is passed, the better for the economy and the Filipino people. Ramping up our investments on infrastructure and social services will only be sustainable if the budget is authorized by Congress,” he said.
On the other hand, the Philippine News Agency has yet to receive a reply from Diokno regarding the implementation of the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law scheduled for this year.