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Philippines ends budget standoff, approves 2019 spending plan

[MANILA] The Philippine Congress approved the 3.76 trillion peso (S$98 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.

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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 per cent to 8 per cent this year.

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