CONGRESS faces a considerable challenge when lawmakers resume their session in a little over three weeks to discuss the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019.
The plenary deliberations had been scheduled to begin last week but these had been marred by what political observers described as intramurals in the House of Representatives, not to mention what appeared to be a discrepant disagreement between the executive and the legislative branches on the budgeting system.
There is the report, for instance, that members of the House are opposed to the shift to the cash-based budgeting, maintaining the line that major cuts will be implemented if they approved the proposed expenses program.
But the Department of Budget and Management upholds the idea that the shift to cash-based from obligation-based budget will “force the agencies” to bring on completion of projects and use their funds allotted within the year.
It may be a good idea for Juan dela Cruz to be told at this junction what is cash-based budgeting as differentiated from obligation-based budgeting to have a clearer picture of what to expect when lawmakers finally imprint their signature on the proposal.
According to economists, cash-based budgeting limits contractual obligations and disbursement of payments to goods delivered and services undertaken within the fiscal year.
For years, government agencies’ budgets have followed the two-year, obligation-based budgeting, which expends payments as obligations or commitments that may not necessarily be delivered within the year.
According to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, in this arrangement agencies tend to enter into contracts before the year ends so that they can commit themselves to projects even if these will not be completed in the same year.
Waiting, for Juan dela Cruz, already dumbstruck by events and confronted by continuing rising prices of prime commodities, is becoming a bad habit.