Safeguards in Place to Deter Abuse of Lump-Sums in 2015 Budget
Vol. XVIII No. 8 (Nov. 29 – Dec. 5,2014)
Senator Chiz Escudero said there are enough safeguards in the 2015 spending package crafted by the Senate to ensure that lump sum items will be used properly.
Escudero allayed fears that the lump sum items in next year’s budget veil pork items for legislators, saying that the Senate-approved budget is compliant with the Supreme Court decision on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), and that measures are in place to deter abuse.
“There are really lump sum items in the budget but it is different from having pork. These items are really necessary and give the government the necessary flexibility,” Escudero explained. “But these lump sums were made temporary only. Why temporary? Because we require them, just very much like what we did in 2014, to submit special budget in accordance with the Revised Administrative Code.”
He said the High Court itself did not declare lump sum as unconstitutional, only the post-intervention of legislators which the Senate has addressed.
Escudero said in Sec. 63 of the GAA lump sum appropriations shall be released upon compliance with the requirements under special provisions which will be submitted to Congress. It shall include the complete details of the programs, activities and projects covering the lump sum appropriations.
In the Senate’s budget version, total lump sum items amount to P1.862 trillion. The total programmed appropriation is P1.734 trillion, and total unprogrammed allocation is P123.056 billion.
Lump sum appropriations under the Programmed Funds include Contingency Fund or standby fund for unforeseen events, P2 billion; Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program to complement the expenses based on the recommendation of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, P20 billion; E-Government Fund for interconnectivity and ICT requirements of all government agencies, P1 billion; and International Committees Fund, P10.7 billion.
It also includes P90.4 billion for the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund or MPBF, which covers the benefits of government workers; P14 billion for National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund; P127.1 billion for Pension and Gratuity Fund to cover the standby fund for those who will retire from government service.
Among the items under the Unprogrammed Funds are the AFP Modernization, Additional Subsidy to Napocor, the proposed supplemental budget for Rehabilitation Fund amounting to P20 billion, the P9 billion for MRT3 acquisition, and P3 billion Trade Remedies Fund.
Escudero explained that the Unprogrammed Funds can be funded only when the state revenues exceed the target for the fiscal year. “It is a standby authority on the part of the Executive to spend money only when there is excess in the revenue collection.”
“In accordance with the DAP decision of the High Court, dapat may certification muna yung National Treasury na sumobra nga at nadoon yung pondo sa Treasury. In accordance with our provisions on lump sums, bago nila magamit kailangan ipagbigay-alam muna nila sa amin,” Escudero explained.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives will convene for the bicameral conference on Tuesday next week to reconcile their budget versions./
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