DBM says 95% of 2019 budget released as of September

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2019   •   156

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reported on Tuesday that it has released over 95% of the 2019 national budget as of September 30.

In a statement, the DBM said it has released P3.491 trillion of the P3.662 trillion for the 2019 obligation program, with P2.011 trillion allotment released to line departments.

“These include funds allocated for agencies in the Executive branch, Congress, the Judiciary, and other constitutional offices,” the department said.

The DBM added it also released special purpose funds (SPF) amounting to P317.882 billion.

SPFs are budgetary allocations in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) allotted for specific socio-economic purposes such as budgetary support to government corporations, allocation to local government units, contingent fund, miscellaneous personnel benefits fund, national disaster risk reduction and management fund, and pension and gratuity fund.

The department also reported that allotment releases for automatic appropriations, or appropriations programmed annually or for some other period prescribed by law, increased to P1.070 trillion.

These include the Internal Revenue Allotment of local government units, pension of ex-president/ex-president widows, net lending, interest payments, and tax expenditures fund/customs duties and taxes.

The DBM also released some P50.254 billion in payments for retirement and life insurance premium requirements. This is inclusive of P3.09 billion for additional requirements for newly-created or -filled positions in various agencies.

Likewise, the DBM reported it has released P25.043 billion from the continuing appropriations of the 2018 budget for line departments and releases from SPFs.

Continuing appropriations refer to appropriations available to support obligations for a specified purpose or project, such as multi-year construction projects which require the incurrence of obligations beyond one fiscal year. 

Some P40.481 billion have also been distributed in terms of unprogrammed or standby appropriations which authorize additional agency expenditures for priority programs and projects when revenue collections exceed the resource targets or when additional grants or foreign funds are generated.

Allotments for other automatic appropriations, amounting to P25.766 billion, have also been released, the DBM added.

The agency said the immediate release will “ensure that national government agencies are able to swiftly implement their programs and projects, such as the construction of new roads, schools, and hospitals, and the protection and promotion of the welfare of the poor and marginalized sectors, among others.”

The DBM, along with other agencies comprising the administration’s economic team, had to play catch up after the passage of the 2019 budget got stalled.

It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte only signed the budget in April this year after Congress failed to pass it on time over alleged illegal fund insertions.

The delayed passage of the budget was blamed for the slowdown in government spending and the country’s economic growth in the first six months of 2019.

Sen. Lacson urged to identify questionable P20-B in proposed 2020 national budget

Maris Federez   •   November 4, 2019

Sen. Panfilo Lacson

A lawmaker in the House of Representatives wants Senator Panfilo Lacson to identify what he calls “parked funds” in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 as approved by the House of Representatives.

House Deputy Speaker for Finance and Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymond Villafuerte reiterated that the lower chamber did not touch or changed anything in the proposed budget submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“Yung sinasabing 20 billion, I think naka-line yan, hindi lang malinaw. Siguro kailangan lang linawin yan ng mga department. Wala kaming ginalaw or inamend from the NEP,” Villafuerte said.

To clear up everything, Villafuerte wants Lacson to identify the said questionable item in the national budget.

“May mga lumpsum, for example feasibility study, right of way, foreign assisted. I think he has to, makakatulong kung eemphasize niya kung alin dun,” Villafuerte added.

Malacanang, meanwhile, also said that all it takes is for Lacson to point out the questionable amount and the President will remove it.

“Tell Sen Lacson to point out the specific item in the GAA and the President will remove it,” said Presidential spokesperson Atty Salvador Panelo.

Conversely, Lacson is confident that the President will remove the questionable fund, like what he did in the P95-Billion fund inserted in the House level for the 2019 national budget.

Lacson said that he will be the one who will propose to have the questionable amount removed when it reached the Senate.

In the meantime, Congressman Villafuerte is hoping that the 2020 national budget will be deliberated upon at the bicameral conference by the end of November.

He said they would want to discuss the additional funds for infrastructure, health, and the areas affected by the recent earthquakes.

The house targets to have the budget enacted by the first week of December. (from the report of Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

Recall of GAB may affect passage of proposed 2020 national budget – Rep. Ungab

Maris Federez   •   September 2, 2019

House Committee on Appropriations chairperson Isidro Ungab

A lawmaker expressed concern over a possible delay in the passage of the proposed 2020 national budget.

This is after Camarines Sur 2nd district representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte on August 28 recalled the filed General Appropriations Bill.

This came as a surprise to Davao 3rd district representative and House Committee on Appropriations chairperson Isidro Ungab.

Ungab said he had already written Villafuerte to inform him that Apo Production Unit and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) are already close to completing the printing of the GAB and that they are soon to start furnishing copies to the members of the House.

Congressman Ungab said amending the GAB will once again take too much time and resources and will delay the passage of the budget.

“If you change the GAB, you will be conducting another set of budget hearings so made-delay talaga. The general appropriations bill is a photocopy of the NEP it is the same budget,” Ungab insisted.

He added that changing the proposed budget that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted will also cause doubt among their fellow lawmakers.

Villafuerte, on the other hand, said the filing of the proposed bill is still premature as the budget briefing is still on-going.

He reiterated that based on House rules, budget briefing must be completed first before the GAB is filed.

Villafuerte added that this is only a procedural matter and that it will not affect the timeline in passing the national budget.

“Parang ang pangit tingnan na di pa nga tapos, ipa-file na. Parang masyado namang nagmamadali. Tinatanggalan na kami ng power to hear or make suggestions [It might not look good to file (the bill) when (the briefing) is not yet finished. It’s as if we are doing things in haste. We are now being denied of the power to hear or make suggestions],” Villafuerte said.

The House had earlier promised to pass the proposed 2020 national budget before the first session break on October 4. (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf

Lawmakers ask for additional fund for TESDA in 2020 budget

Maris Federez   •   August 29, 2019

Several members of the House of Representatives are pushing for an increase in the budget of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) next year.

This will ensure that a larger number of Filipinos will be provided more job opportunities, whether locally or abroad.

From the original 2020 budget allocation of P19.9-billion for TESDA, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only allotted P11.75-billion for the agency.

This prompted TESDA Director-General Isidro Lapena to appeal against such reduction to the House Committee on Appropriations during its deliberation on the said budget.

“We will appeal for more budget so that we can access and provide more assistance to more Filipinos. You cannot give a job or a livelihood without going through training,” he said.

Among the items in the proposed TESDA budget which the DBM reduced is the request for mobile training laboratories that will go to far-flung areas to provide training to those who are interested to take technical-vocational courses.

Of 63 mobile training laboratories requested, only 10 were approved by the DBM.

Lapena said the P11.8-B proposed budget for TESDA does not cover the funding for the implementation of the Tulong Trabaho Act and some other programs of the agency.

Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy didn’t let this slide.

“There is a law na kailangang i-set aside ang pondo na ito [There is a law that seeks to set aside such budget]. So I’m wondering why it was slashed out by the DBM considering this was signed by the President,” she said.

RECOBODA Partylist Rep. Godofred Guya said, “Dapat siguro, Mr. Chair, baliktarin natin [I think, Mr. Chair, we have to reverse this]. We have to give more budget for skills training because if we are going to look out sa unemployed ang dami pa [to the (number of) unemployed, there is still a lot].”

The committee chair promised to consider the recommendation to increase the TESDA fund, which will be heard in the plenary session next month. (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf

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