Gov’t ready to augment ‘quick response funds’ – AbadBy Ronnel W. Domingo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management is ready to beef up funding for line agencies’ immediate response to the needs of calamity-stricken communities.
Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said some P3 billion in “quick response funds” (QRFs) was disbursed to various departments earlier this year.
These include the departments of agriculture, education, health, defense, public works, and social work, with each one receiving between P224 million and P662 million.
“These funds are readily available to enable national government agencies to immediately respond to the needs of localities and citizens affected by calamities,” Abad said.
“We are ready to augment these QRFs [as well as] the calamity fund if needed,” he added. “We have enough savings that can be realigned to support disaster response and rehabilitation activities.”
He explained that the national budget for 2012 provides P7.5 billion for the calamity fund, aside from P291.8 million that was not spent in 2011.
Abad said that unlike in the previous years where the QRF was lumped together with the calamity fund, the 2012 budget allocates QRFs separately in the budgets of the various departments.
“A total of some P10.5 billion has been appropriated for the calamity fund and QRFs, compared to the P5-billion calamity fund under the 2011 budget,” he added.
Further, the budget chief said P5.95 billion remains of this year’s calamity fund, which can be released for disaster response and rehabilitation efforts.
Last month, Abad said the government spent less in January to June than what was planned partly due to savings that the departments made owing to the continuing review of their costs, including those of the DPWH.
“We also saved money from less personnel cost and, of course, less leakages,” Abad said. “These savings create spaces that will allow us to make additional investments in priority projects this year.”
He cited as example an additional P5 billion freed up to be spent on roads that lead to tourism zones, P1 billion for agrarian reform beneficiaries’ credit facility, and P2 billion for local government units that suffered cuts in their internal revenue allotments in 2011.
“So that’s not necessarily an expenditure gap—it’s not that the money is not spent, but we’re spending better,” he said.
“And in the succeeding quarters, there should be no problem disbursing [these funds].