Solon says low spending justifies budget slash for some legislative districts
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone on Monday justified the slashing of billions of funds from some legislative districts in the country, saying most of them have low spending or disbursement rates this year.
Evardone even released documents to show the detailed breakdown of statement of allotments, obligations and disbursement (Saod) of legislative districts as of August 31, 2018 in a bid explain his point.
In a press briefing, he specifically mentioned the disbursement rates of three Palawan districts which were at 19.05 percent, 15.30 percent, and 29.74 percent respectively, as well as Romblon’s district at 23.3 percent.
Palawan and Romblon are part of Region IV-B, which faced the biggest chunk of budget cut among all regions – P10 billion – during the House leadership’s realignment of the nearly P52 billion worth of infrastructure funds.
“So how can you justify putting, allocating huge amounts for their districts which cannot implement these projects?” Evardone asked.
“Kasi sayang eh, kung hindi mo gagamitin ‘yung pondo babalik sa national treasury, in the meantime, inutang ‘yan ng national government with interests, walang productive side, sayang,” he added.
In a separate text message to reporters, Evardone has explained the rate of disbursement of a district or agency could be crucial and could be likened to its absorptive capacity – meaning the capacity to utilize its legislated budget.
“Disbursements are payments of work done on projects. So it is indicative on the capability of a district to implement projects,” he said.
The controversial P51.8 fund was slashed from specific infrastructure projects of 15 regions.
Out of the amount, the House leadership has funneled P31.6 billion to other Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) programs, P5 billion to national risk reduction management fund, P6 billion to the Department of Health (DOH), P3 billion to the Department of Education (DepEd), P5 billion to the Department of Agriculture (DA), and P1.2 billion to State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).
Some lawmakers have criticized the reallocation of the controversial fund in the proposed 2019 national budget, with one even saying it was a “struggle over spoils” that would lead to a “re-division of pork.”
But Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, Jr. has earlier said the budget would be itemized into specific state projects during the chamber’s period of amendments on House Bill No. 8169 or the General Appropriations Bill for 2019.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.