By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations said Monday the measure seeking to extend the validity of the 2019 Appropriations for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlays (CO) will “most likely” be discussed during the budget deliberations.
Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab said House Joint Resolution No. 9, filed by Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, will be tackled during his panel’s deliberations on the proposed 2020 P4.1 trillion national budget.
The Ungab panel will jumpstart the budget hearings on August 22, Thursday, two days after the formal submission of the P4.1-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP).
“Most likely, the resolution and all related bills will be discussed during the budget deliberations,” Ungab told the Manila Bulletin.
He said they would ask the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and other concerned agencies whether or not extending the validity of the 2019 funds would be “best option” to address the delayed implementation of programs and projects for the delivery of basic services.
“We will check as well the feedbacks from the various departments and DBM, at the budget deliberations, whether extending the validity of the budget is the best option to address the problem,” Ungab said in an interview.
Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte earlier said he does not see the need for Congress to extend the validity of the 2019 Appropriations for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlays (CO) until December 31, 2020.
“The extension on the use of 2019 funds till 2020 might no longer be necessary, given that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), despite the 4-1/2 month delay in the approval of the P2019 GAA, has—as of July 31—already released P3.662 trillion or 89.1 percent of the national budget,” he pointed out.
Ungab said they would also factor in Villafuerte’s position on Legarda’s resolution.
“I’m rechecking the figures first. There’s still ample time anyway,” he said.
Villafuerte has expressed confidence that much-needed public services will be delivered, as the DBM has released funds for the implementation of the government agencies’ programs and projects for second semester.
“Assuming that our government agencies have improved their absorptive capacities, the DBM’s immediate release of nine-tenths of 2019 GAA funds by end-July will enable these offices to carry out their 2019 programs and projects this second semester,” he said.
“Besides, the government is already implementing the cash-based budgeting system in lieu of the two-year, obligation-based budgeting that allowed in the past a carryover of project disbursements to the following fiscal year,” he added.
Ungab said he would file a similar measure seeking to extend the validity of the 2019 funds “because of the delayed approval of the 2019 budget which may have caused a domino effect, that caused delay on the implementation of our basic services projects and programs.”
House Joint Resolution No. 9 seeks to extend the validity of the 2019 Appropriations for MOOE and CO until December 31, 2020. It seeks to amend Section 65 of the General provisions of Republic Act No. 11260, otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2019, which provides that all appropriations shall be available for release and obligation until December 31,2019.
Ungab has agreed with Legarda that the validity of the MOOE and CO appropriations should be extended to benefit the people, citing the non-implementation of projects and programs for the delivery of basic services.
“I have no objection to that proposal. In fact, I am also filing a bill of the same nature and purpose, considering that the approval of the 2019 budget was delayed,” he said.
In filing her two-page House Joint Resolution No. 9, Legarda, former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, lamented that following the delay in the passage of 2019 General Appropriations Act and the election ban on the implementation of infrastructure projects and social services in view of the May 13, 2019 national elections, there were projects and programs for the delivery of basic services that were not implemented.
“There are appropriations that have not been released and allotment issued that have not been obligated which shall automatically result to the reversion of the said unexpended appropriations to the unappropriated surplus of the General Fund of the much-needed MOOE and CO to fund priority projects, medical assistance program, aid, and relief activities as well as for the maintenance, construction/repair, and rehabilitation of schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and other essential facilities of the national government, ” Legarda said.
“It is clearly imperative that Section 65 of the General provisions of Republic Act No. 11260 should be amended such that the validity of the MOOE and CO appropriations shall be extended for another fiscal year for the benefit of the people and for the welfare of the nation,” she stressed.
HJR No. 9 provides that the House of Representatives and Senate, voting separately, shall extend the validity and period of availability of the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations for MOOE and COs to December 31, 2020.
Legarda’s resolution was referred to the Ungab panel on August 13, 2019, a week after it was filed.