Recto hits ‘lack of transparency’ in P216-B unprogrammed funds
MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto questioned on Wednesday the lack of transparency in the P216.3-billion Unprogrammed Appropriations (UA) in the 2020 budget.
From P67.5 billion in 2016, Recto said the UA ballooned to P197.1 billion this year. This will further increase to P216.3 billion if the proposed 2020 national budget is passed.
Recto said the P216.3 billion UA was on top of the P4.1 trillion budget that is being reported in the media.
Unknown to many, the senator said, the real amount of the 2020 national budget was P4.316 trillion—the “programmed” P4.1 trillion and the “unprogrammed” P216.3 billion.
“The former can be defined as funded appropriations, while the latter is conditioned on the availability of funds,” he explained in a statement.
However, Recto said the UA was “plagued by lack of transparency.”
“It is not your ideal itemized section of the budget. Rather, large amounts are placed in generic boxes whose specifics lack elaboration,” he said.
The senator then cited as an example the biggest item in the UA, the P90.4 billion for “Support to Foreign Assisted Projects,” which he said is higher that the proposed budget of the Department of Health next year.
“Kung para sa ano ito, hindi idinetalye sa National Expenditure Program (NEP). Parang cheke na may amount, pero walang particulars,” he said.
(It was not detailed in the National Expenditure Program how this would be used. It’s like a cheque with the specific amount but with no particulars.)
Recto said the second biggest item in the UA is the P61.9 billion described as the “Budgetary Support to GOCCs (government-owned and/or -controlled corporations).”
“Again, no itemization in the NEP,” he pointed out.
The third biggest item, he said, is the P30 billion for the Risk Management Program.
“Here, at last, is a UA item with its purpose painted in broad but economical strokes. It is reserved for government commitments and agreements related to PPP projects, the names of which are, again, not specified.”
Recto said they later learned from the executive the following big ticket items that would be funded by the mega P90.3 billion for projects to be funded by foreign debt, and the P61.8 billion for select GOCCs:
1.) P40.6 billion for the NFA (National Food Authority) where previous payments made by the government for its loans will be converted into subsidy; and
2.) Five rail projects worth P75. 8 billion.
“My point is that these particulars should be openly declared in the NEP, and not swept under innocuously-worded headings,” he said.
Recto said he would raise this issue when the Senate tackles the 2020 budget on the floor. /jpv
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