Philippines Ends Budget Standoff, Approves 2019 Spending Plan

(Bloomberg) -- The Philippine Congress approved the 3.76 trillion-peso ($72 billion) budget for 2019, ending an impasse that put on hold funding for new government projects.

Lawmakers ratified the spending plan Friday evening in Manila, just before a three-month recess until May 20.

The Philippines missed the year-end deadline to approve the 2019 budget — the first time in almost a decade — as lawmakers questioned fund increases allegedly inserted without their approval. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno maintains there were no anomalies in the allocations.

The government had to make to do with a smaller back-up budget this quarter, which allocated funds for personnel salaries and maintenance expenses but not new capital outlays. The budget approval would allow the government to start projects during the peak construction season over the summer, and increases its chances of meeting its growth target of 7 percent to 8 percent this year.

According to Diokno, economic growth could slow to less than 6 percent if the government had failed to enact the 2019 budget for the full year.

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