Lacson: Look into proposal to extend availability of funds under 2020 budget; clarify cash-based system

Published November 14, 2020, 8:16 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Panfilo Lacson said proposals to extend the availability of the funds under the 2020 budget and the Bayanihan 2 law are worth looking into even as he sought clarification whether or not the government would still continue to adopt a cash-based budgeting system.

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Alam mo nagka-cash based tayo ta’s hindi naman natin kaya…Ineextend namin palagi ‘yong validity ngfiscal year sa susunod na fiscal year. Ngayon na naman, ito na naman tayo (We have shifted to a cash-based budgeting but we end up not being able to do it. We have always extended the validity of the budget on a fiscal to the next fiscal year. And now, here we are, again),” he told radio DWIZ on Saturday.

Lacson was asked in an interview over radio DWIZ about the bills filed in the Senate seeking to make available the appropriations under this year’s budget until next year.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto filed last November 10 Senate Bill No. 1909 to extend until March 27, 2021 the validity of the funds and its obligations under the Republic Act No. 11494 or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One” Act, as well as selected items in the 2020 General Appropriations for COVID-19 response.

Similarly, Sen. Imee Marcos earlier filed a bill for the extension of the availability of the 2020 appropriations to December 31, 2021.

“Extraordinary times naman itong nangyari sa atin ng 2020, so merong wisdom ‘yong panukala ni Sen. Recto at Sen. Imee, so pwedeng pagaralan at pwedeng suportahan, kasi nga, hindi naman nga ordinaryo itong taon na ito eh (We have had extraordinary times this 2020, so there is wisdom in their proposals, so we can study and support this, since, like I said, this year was not ordinary),” Lacson said.

“Kung nahihirapan sa pag-utilize, o pag-obligate ‘yong mga ahensya, pwede talagang pag-aralan. Pero taon taon na lang ba? Kasi kung ineextend din lang huwag na tayong magcash-based budgeting, ibalik na lang sa mayroong continuing appropriations ulit (We can study the extension, if agencies are really having a hard time utilizing and obligating their funds, we can really look into this. But do we have to do this every year? Because if we will keep extending then we should not have adopted the cash-based budgeting, just revert to when we have continuing obligations),” he said.

“Para hindi na tayo — sayang yong papel, sayang ‘yong balitaktakan sa plenaryo eh (So we will not waste paper, or time discussing it in plenary),” he added.

In 2019, the Duterte administration adopted a cash-based budget system for the “faster implementation of government programs by ensuring that funding requirements for priority programs and projects are sufficient, maximized by agencies, and, even more importantly, delivered on time,” the Department of Budget and Management had said.

“Unlike the previous obligation-based budgeting system where the implementation period for projects is open, this system promotes discipline, focus, and better operational planning among agencies as it funds only the programs and projects that can be implemented and completed within the fiscal year,” it added.

But in December last year, President Duterte signed a law that extended the validity of all the appropriations in the 2019 budget until December 31, 2020, due to the delay in its passage, and the election ban which barred the government from spending funds for new projects.

In 2018, under the obligations-based budgeting, Duterte also approved the law extending select appropriations in the 2018 budget.