The government is running smoothly even without the timely approval of the proposed FY 2000 budget package which has faced difficulties in the Legislature following differences among members on how to distribute the meager resources.
According to Speaker Diego T. Benavente, the House is not about to rush passage of the $206.7 million spending package as the continuing resolution based from FY 99 resources that was adopted early this month by the administration allots budget to departments and agencies.
“We are still working on the budget. Whether we have a budget or the continuing resolution. Under these circumstances at this point in time, it really does not hurt or help this government to be able to meet its obligation in the delivery of services,” he said in an interview.
Benavente also supported the position by Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio against passing piecemeal budget for critical needs of the Commonwealth, saying it will not ease the financial woes confronting the government.
“Because of these circumstances, with the projection and the problems that we are facing, a piecemeal budget will not help the situation,” he said.
Some lawmakers have pressed such an action due to concerns that other responsibilities of the government to the public would not be met in the absence of the budget for this fiscal year, including scholarships and medical referral programs.
The administration has proposed a 50 percent reduction in the appropriations for the scholarship program — a move which drew opposition from members of the Legislature.
Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee Chairman Pete P. Reyes said he would recommend increase in its budget and has vowed to amend the entire package in a bid to ensure funding for local scholars.
The Speaker, however, maintained the House is still committed to coming up with a balanced budget acceptable to both the Senate and the administration.
“We want to see the budget passed,” Benavente explained, “but we are not necessarily have to move forward to pass this budget because it does not really impact one way or another the operations of this government.”
Unable to reach consensus as to which departments and agencies should suffer budget cuts, the Legislature and the administration decided not to pass the spending proposal last Sept. 28, two days before the constitutionally-mandated deadline for its passage.
However, it has granted the governor greater flexibility in managing the government resources with quarterly allotment advise that Benavente said is sufficient to ensure smooth operations.