Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III hailed the signing into law of the PHP3.7-trillion 2019 national budget, citing its importance towards attaining sustained growth of the Philippine economy.
“We fully support the President in his desire to focus national expenditure on projects and activities that redound to the benefit of all Filipinos and stimulate the growth of the economy providing job and income opportunity for the least advantaged,” he said in a message to journalists Monday night.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) Monday but vetoed PHP95.3 billion under the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Palace reporters the signing of the GAA clearly shows the priorities of the current government.
“The 2019 GAA is the reflection of the Administration’s vision of genuine change for the Philippines, where effective and efficient delivery of programs, projects and public services for our people will be its hallmark,” he said.
Relatively, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the President vetoed PHP95.3-billion worth of appropriations because these are “not part of the President’s priority projects.”
“The President, among others, vetoed 95.3 billion pesos items of appropriations in the Details of DPWH Programs/Projects, which are not within the programmed priorities,” he added.
Earlier, Finance officials said the delay in the approval of this year’s national budget resulted in the non-disbursement of about PHP43.7 billion intended for public goods and services as of last February.
Amid the reenacted budget, Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) data show that expenditures grew by seven percent in the first two months this year to PHP490.7 billion from year-ago’s PHP458.9 billion. Revenues, in turn, totaled PHP458.8 billion, up 10 percent compared to the PHP417.4 billion in end-February 2018.
The budget deficit contracted by 23 percent to PHP31.8 billion from PHP41.5 billion in the first two months this year.
Delay in the approval of the budget is seen to hit domestic growth, with several institutions deciding to cut their growth forecasts for the economy this year.
Some economists, however, remain optimistic of a six-percent level growth for the domestic economy given the government’s massive infrastructure program.