By Bernadette D. Nicolas, May 22 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business World

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has finally released the national budget circular for the P3.662-trillion 2019 budget after it was prodded by two economic managers to do so to prevent further delays in the implementation of projects.

Project delays arising from the government’s operating for four months under a reenacted budget —the result of a standoff between the two chambers of Congress—had been blamed for the lower-than-expected GDP growth in the first quarter.

The Department of Finance had said last week that the issuance of circular will pave the way for the government to continue infrastructure projects affected by the budget impasse in Congress.

The national budget circular stipulates the guidelines on the release of funds for 2019 national budget.

Although the circular was dated May 2, it was only released on Tuesday, May 21.

Under the National Budget Circular 577 signed by DBM Officer in Charge Janet B. Abuel, all unutilized allotments of agencies as of April 30, 2019, and chargeable against the 2018 reenacted budget shall no longer be available for obligation.

All appropriations authorized under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) as well as programmed automatic appropriations shall be valid for release and obligation for the purpose specified until December 31, 2019.

The validity shall also be subject to the pertinent Special and General Provisions of the GAA, the President’s Veto message on the implementation of cash-based budgeting, as well as other pertinent laws.  The completion of construction, inspection and payment for appropriations for infrastructure capital outlays may be made not later than December 31, 2020, in consideration of the first year of implementation of cash-based budgeting system.

Infrastructure projects shall cover the construction, improvement, rehabilitation, restoration or maintenance of roads and bridges, railways, airports, seaports/fish ports, information and communication technology and facilities, among others.

In terms of use of fees and income, departments and agencies are no longer authorized to avail themselves of excess income since their annual financial requirements to cover their implementation-ready programs and projects have been fully provided in line with the government adopting the annual cash-based budget policy.

Departments and agencies were also reminded to submit Budget Execution Documents (BEDs) their full-year requirements consistent with the 2019 national budget to the DBM, through the Unified Reporting System.

The BEDs should highlight any adjustments made in the programs, activities and projects, targets/plans on account of changes from the 2019 National Expenditure Program to the 2019 General Appropriations Act.

The DBM has also set the deadline for the submission of agency requests for any release requiring issuance of Special Allotment Release Orders/additional Notices of Cash Allocation on November 15, 2019.

Within 30 days after the end of each quarter, agencies are also tasked to submit Budget and Financial Accountability Reports pursuant to Section 102, General Provisions under the 2019 GAA.

Moreover, monthly reports on appropriations, allotments, obligations and disbursements should also be submitted to DBM and copy furnished to the National Economic and Development Authority and Office of the Cabinet Secretary on or before the tenth day of the month immediately following the covered period. The same deadline applies to the submission of monthly report of disbursements.

The DBM shall also conduct Agency Performance Reviews to determine the level of performance of each agency in terms of physical outputs, as well as actual expenditures incurred in the production of goods/services to the public vis-à-vis targets for the same period.

The result will be used to determine the necessity of releasing the balance of the “For Later Release Items” under the 2019 Programmed Appropriations, additional release from Special Purpose Funds, approval of requests from modification in allotment or revision of plans/targets as reflected in the DBM-evaluated Budget Execution Documents submitted by agencies.

Departments and agencies were mandated to implement transparency provisions in the national budget.