Palace assures budget signing before end of 2021

A PALACE official said on Tuesday that he expects the proposed P5.024-trillion budget for 2022 to be signed before the end of the year after the original Tuesday target date was not met.

“We assure the public that the budget will be signed. President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte will sign the budget before Dec. 31,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said at a televised news conference.

Mr. Nograles said the budget is still being reviewed by the executive department. “So ilang araw na lamang po at matatapos na rin iyong review (The review will be completed in a few days) and the President will immediately sign the budget.”

A day before the expected signing of the spending plan on Dec. 28, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto told reporters that he “received word now of a postponement” with “no reason given.”

Any news of a potential delay could affect the investment climate, according to John Paolo R. Rivera, an economist with the Asian Institute of Management. “It means something is not right and a risk has just emerged.”

“Not signing the budget on time poses the risk of using the 2021 budget in 2022. This is problematic because the needs of 2021 are different from the needs of 2022” Mr. Rivera said in a Viber message. “Investors will be cautious because it may signal how financially constrained 2022 will be.”

“Any delay could weigh on sentiments in local financial markets and could adversely affect economic recovery prospects and investment valuations,” Michael L. Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said in a Viber message.

“The approval of the 2022 national budget would fundamentally improve economic recovery prospects, as made more urgent by the pandemic in view of the need to also have funding available for various COVID programs,” he said.

Mr. Nograles said the government is expected next year to generate about P3.3 trillion in revenue.

The spending plan will also be funded by borrowing, with 77% sourced domestically, he said. “All revenue streams needed to fully implement the budget for 2022 are already programmed.”

The 2022 budget was ratified by the two chambers of Congress just a day before Typhoon Odette made landfall on Dec. 16.

Odette, the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year, has directly affected 4.24 million people, according to government estimates. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza