Abad to face new grilling by senators on lump sums
MANILA, Philippines—Budget Secretary Florencio Abad will have a lot on his plate when he faces the Senate to defend the proposed 2015 national budget.
Sen. Francis Escudero has advised the budget department to provide details of the P118-billion Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) and other lump sum items in the proposed P2.606-trillion budget, otherwise these would be slashed.
The MPBF covers compensation adjustments under the Salary Standardization Law, provisions for unfilled positions and employee clothing allowances.
After sifting through the proposed budget, Escudero observed that the MPBF, the P1-billion contingent fund and P200 million of the P2.5-billion local government support fund were not itemized.
Given that these have no details, they will be scrutinized when the Senate begins deliberating on the budget beginning Aug. 19, said Escudero, chair of the finance committee.
No rhyme or reason
“If there’s no reason, rhyme, logic and computation of the amounts they’re asking, we will slash them accordingly and reallocate for other projects that can be used by the public as well,’’ he said.
Congress had slashed the MPBF budget in the past because it was too huge to be used up, leaving some savings, as had happened in 2013 when only P39 billion of the P69 billion of the fund was used. The balance was realigned to rehabilitation projects.
“We don’t have the data yet on the MPBF in 2014. But that’s how big the fund is. That’s why we’d slash it every budget season,’’ Escudero said.
The MPBF, along with calamity funds, contingency funds, pension and guarantee funds, Internal Revenue Allotment and debt service, is part of the huge P501.67-billion special purpose fund in the 2015 budget.
The executive department has been under pressure to itemize allocations in its National Expenditure Program after suffering setbacks in the Supreme Court.
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