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HOUSE APPROVES BILL EXTENDING VALIDITY OF 2019 NAT’L BUDGET

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a priority measure which seeks to extend the availability of some portions of the 2019 budget until December 31, 2020.

With 199 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and no abstention, the lower chamber adopted House Joint Resolution No. 19 seeking to extend the availability of the 2019 appropriations for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlays (CO) to Dec. 31, 2020.

It proposes to amend Section 65 of the general provisions of RA 11260 or the General Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2019, which provides that all appropriations shall be available for release and obligation until Dec. 31, 2019.

“The unobligated and unreleased appropriations for MOOE and Capital Outlay for 2019 are urgently needed for the implementation of priority programs and projects.”

House Committee on Appropriations chairman and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, one of the authors of the resolution, stressed that the unobligated and unreleased appropriations for MOOE and Capital Outlay for 2019 are urgently needed for the implementation of priority programs and projects such as 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 and local government.

Ungab argued that numerous projects and programs for the delivery of basic services were not implemented in 2019 due to the delay in the passage of the 2019 General Appropriations Act and the election ban on the implementation of infrastructure projects and social services in view of the May 2019 national elections.

Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, another author of the resolution, emphasized that extending the availability of the appropriations is not meant to slow down growth or make agencies complacent so “they don’t work and speed up the utilization” of their funds.

Legarda added that some agencies are unaware of their allocations and therefore do not utilize their budgets.

“I think this situation is now unique.”

“It would be such a waste if it expires by this year. Without really allowing them to slow down in utilization, I think this situation is now unique,” the veteran legislator said

In the past, the House had adopted similar resolutions to extend the validity of the GAA to the succeeding year.

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