THE Philippines suffered economic losses worth P464 billion in the past six months because of a delay in the enacted budget for 2019, a lawmaker said on Thursday.
“The budget delay cost the country almost P465 billion in foregone revenues which slowed down the economy,” Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Michael “Mikee” Romero told reporters in a briefing.
He said that this amount was equivalent to P77.2-billion in losses per month, brought by the four-month delay in the approval of the 2019 money measure.
“We should do everything legal to avoid a repeat of this regrettable situation in the future,” said Romero, an economist.
He said that the government missed its 6.4 percent projected gross domestic product growth, registering a four-year low of 5.5 percent for the first half of the year.
To avoid a repeat of the consequences of this delay for the incoming year, Romero called on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to submit the proposed National Expenditure Program on July of each year to give Congress enough time to scrutinize the budget proposal prior to its approval.
“This way, Congress will have at least one month addition to the budget study. The timetable is a very important matter that our economic managers should consider,” Romero said.
“Economically, the repercussions of the delayed budget passage [are] too heavy for the country that a repeat should be avoided,” he added.
The party-list bloc head expressed confidence that Congress would approve the 2020 budget measure right before they go on a break to help the administration catch up with this year’s losses.
President Rodrigo Duterte had passed the 2019 budget but vetoed P95.3 billion worth of “unconstitutional insertions” even after Congress deliberated on separate versions of realignments which went on for months, resulting in a reenacted budget early this year.
The proposed P4.1 trillion budget for 2020 is 9.1 percent higher than the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) of P3.7 trillion.
Proposals of over 20 agencies, including the Presidential Communications Operations Office (P1.63 billion), the Judiciary (P37.65 billion), the Department of Finance (P17.29) and the Office of the Ombudsman (P3.087 billion) have been approved in the House plenary as of Thursday. GLEE JALEA