By Ben Rosario
The House of Representatives, after speeding up committee approval of Package 2 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN 2), may apply the brakes on its swift approval in the plenary if government fails to satisfycongressmen’squery on TRAIN 1 expenditures.
Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. revealed this Monday, stressing that the government must be able to explain convincingly why proposed budgetary allocations in 2019 for key government agencies suffered drastic cuts despite an expected windfall from TRAIN 1.
“Definitely, we don’t want to give our people additional burden,” Andaya responded when asked on the possibility that TRAIN 2 will be adversely affected if government fails to address queries about TRAIN 1 expenditures.
“Where is the income from the TRAIN 1, where did it go?” he asked.
Andaya, together with other House officials, are clearly puzzled over the decision of Malacañang to slash the proposed budgets for various projects of the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Education (DepEd), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The projects were supposed to gain from TRAIN 1 collections but budgetary cuts contradicted the principal goals by which the much-criticized tax law was passed.
The measure was able to gather strong support in the Lower House when it was passed last year.
TRAIN 2 has also been assured of the same degree of backing from Malacañang allied congressmen but the recent budget cuts may likely weaken the support.
Nograles also lamented that anti-flooding allocations have suffered severe cuts reaching P20 billion under the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM’s) proposed cash-based 2019 national budget system.
Nograles said that from previous P122.7 billion, flood control management index for 2019 is down to P101.9 billion.
The government’s flood control program is primarily assigned to the DPWH, with direct supervision from other agencies such as the Department of the Interior and
Local Government (DILG) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
Last June, the Commission on Audit (COA) chided both DPWH and MMDA for its failure to implement majority of their flood control projects last year. COA’s observation was buttressed by the widespread flooding of the metropolis over the weekend due to rains spawned by the southwest monsoon or habagat that was enhanced by tropical storm “Karding.”
The Davao-based solon stressed that compared to the previous 1,936,000 mitigation structures and drainage systems constructed for 2018, flood control projects for next year are only 1,811,000.
Nograles said he is wondering why the DBM has proposed a lower budget for next year which happens to be an election season and despite the high revenue targets that will be collected from the implementation of the TRAIN Law.
Last Saturday, Nograles announced that the Committee on Appropriations will suspend the budget deliberations for the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 until further notice as majority of legislators have declared their opposition over the cash-based budgeting scheme submitted by the DBM and the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).