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Still no consensus on 2019 budget

Still no consensus on 2019 budget
By Filane Mikee Cervantes
MANILA -- The Senate and House of Representatives have not reached a consensus on the proposed PHP3.757-trillion 2019 national budget despite the congressional leaders' Tuesday night meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte to resolve the budget impasse.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Duterte told lawmakers that he will not sign the budget if Sotto does not sign it.

Sotto noted that the House "appeared to have acquiesced" with Senator Panfilo Lacson's proposal to revert to the ratified version of the budget bill, but there is still no confirmation.

"The President wanted to resolve the impasse. He opened the dialogue by saying he will not sign the budget if I do not sign it," Sotto told reporters in a group message.

"After some words from both sides, Senator Lacson suggested that the House recall the enrolled copy they sent and revert back to the bicam report that both houses approved. The President and members of the executive department concurred," Sotto added.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the President asked lawmakers to pass the budget "so that the programs of government can continue."

Zubiri said the Senate proposal was just to pass the ratified version of the 2019 budget, while the House insisted on the line-by-line itemization and not lump sum appropriations.

"We still met while the President had left but there's still no consensus unfortunately," Zubiri said.

Present during the meeting were Senate finance committee chair Loren Legarda, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, and Senator Gringo Honasan.

Representing the House contingent were Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, House appropriations committee chair Rolando Andaya, and House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro, among others.

The government has been operating on a reenacted budget since January 1 after lawmakers failed to pass the bill last year due to allegations of pork "insertions".

The passage of the 2019 budget was further stalled due to allegations of last-minute amendments made by the House after both chambers of Congress ratified the bicameral conference committee report. (PNA)

Still no consensus on 2019 budget Still no consensus on 2019 budget Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 3:25:00 AM Rating: 5

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