By Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio, July 2 2019; Business World

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THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it will wait for the House of Representatives to select a new Speaker before it submits its 2020 budget proposal.

The previous timeline called for its submission a day before the State of the Nation Address on July 22. “But maybe now we’ll have to wait (because) we need to have very close coordination with Congress. So we need to wait for their leadership (to be named)” if the DBM’s efforts are not to “go to waste,” Janel B. Abuel, DBM officer-in-charge, told reporters in Pasay on Monday.

“After the new Speaker is installed… So everything is more or less crystalized. We’re going to work very fast so that as early as we can, we can submit. Iyon lang (the thing is), it’s really important to know (that) we can work with the leadership,” she added.

The Philippine economy grew 5.6% in the first quarter after the delayed passage of the 2019 budget, holding up government spending.

The budget, which was proposed at P3.757 trillion, was reduced to P3.66 trillion after President Rodrigo R. Duterte vetoed a P95.3-billion allocation for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) after signing it on April 15.

Ms. Abuel said that the DBM is confident in ultimate approval for the budget, but wants to ensure that legislators are duly consulted.

“We’re more positive now. We’re not really fearful but we’re preparing for (a delay) just in case… we don’t want to rush. We want to wait instead of submitting.”

“We want also to at least (have) coordination so that the relationship is better and that the proposed budget will be preserved as much as possible,” Ms. Abuel said.

Asked when she expects the proposed budget to be submitted, Ms. Abuel said, “Within 30 days from SONA, so we have until Aug. 21, but we will not be waiting that long.” — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio