MANILA

Items in 2019 budget to be ‘constitutional, Palace assures

THE items included in the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for this year would be compliant with the 1987 Constitution and the law, Malacañang guaranteed Friday, February 8, after Congress ratified the 2019 general appropriations bill.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace was “pleased” by the latest move of the Senate and the House of Representatives to approve the proposed 2019 budget despite months of delay.

“We welcome the passage of Congress of the 2019 National Budget,” the Palace official said in a statement issued on Friday night.

“We are pleased that both Houses of Congress have reconciled their differences and made a unified approbation of the General Appropriations Bill. Indeed there is no obstacle we cannot hurdle if we put our hearts to it, with only the interest of the Filipino people in mind,” he added.

The senators and congressmen voted Friday in favor of the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2019, just before it went on recess to pave the way for the 2019 midterm elections.

The Congress's ratification of the proposed budget for 2019 comes after lengthy deliberations on the alleged anomalous “insertions” in proposed spending law.

The national government has been operating on a reenacted budget since the start of 2019 after the lawmakers failed to pass the proposed 2019 budget before the December 31, 2018 deadline.

Following the ratification of the final version of the 2019 budget, it will be forwarded to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.

Panelo assured the public that the budget bill would undergo thorough review to ensure that all items included “comply with the Constitution and the law.”

“We assure the nation that the Executive Branch upon its receipt of the enrolled General Appropriations Bill will thoroughly review the same to ensure that all items comply with the Constitution and the law, and more importantly, they redound to the benefit of the Filipino people,” he said.

Some lawmakers have called on Duterte to wield his veto power to junk several items in the proposed 2019 budget that are allegedly “pork” allocations for some lawmakers.

Panelo said the Duterte government would use this year's budget to fulfill the President's vow to improve the people's lives through a “genuine and meaningful” change.

“This year’s budget is essential in building a bright future for our nation and for our people. It lays the foundation for an inclusive growth and sustainable development,” Panelo said.

“Our key budget priorities, which include intensifying infrastructure development, expanding programs on human development and poverty reduction, enhancing social services and building a more secure and peaceful environment for our countrymen, will push further our momentum in fulfilling the President's promise of genuine and meaningful change for our people,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)


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