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Lacson rues almost P500B unused budget annually

/ 11:16 AM November 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The government has an average of around P487 billion of unused appropriations annually, Senator Panfilo Lacson bared on Wednesday.

“Ang average no’n ang alam ko, year in and year out, nasa mga P487 billion ang hindi nagagamit. Napakalaking bahagi ng budget ang hindi nagagamit,” Lacson said in an interview on dzMM.

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(The average, from what I know, year in and year out, is around P487 billion.   It’s a big bulk of the budget which is not used).

Unused appropriations, Lacson explained, include unobligated and unreleased funds from the Department of Budget Management (DBM).

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“Pag tinawag nating unused, kasama dun yung unobligated at saka unreleased. Hindi na-release ng DBM at hindi na-obligate ng mga ahensyang nagpapatupad ng mga proyekto,” he said.

(If we say unused, it includes those unobligated and unreleased. Those that were not released by the DBM to agencies which implement the projects).

Lacson attributed the government’s underspending to poor planning and lack of consultation between local government units and project-implementing agencies.

“May plano kasi mula sa local government unit (LGUs), nagsa-submit sila ng mga local development plans papuntang Regional Development Council (RDC),” he said.

(Local government units submit development plans to the Regional Development Council).

But Lacson said that only 25 percent of projects that were recommended to the RDC was adopted by the national government.

“Do’n yung nakikita natin na disconnect between the needs and priorities ng mga kanayunan at saka yung national budget mismo so talagang lalaki yung unused,” he said.

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(We can see there the disconnect between the needs and priorities of the cities from the national budget itself, so the unused appropriations will really balloon).

“Isang dahilan naman diyan, pinaguugatan…pagdating sa plenaryo singitan nang singitan eh wala namang pagkokonsulta yun sa mga ahensya. Basta’t sisingit yang mga legislators. So, walang planning na involved dun. Nahihirapan yung mag ahensya na ipatupad o iimplementa yung mga proyekto na hindi naman sa kanila nanggaling,” he added.

(One reason there is that insertions are being made at the plenary without consulting the agencies. Legislators would just make insertions. So, there’s no planning involved. The agencies will then have a hard time implementing the project which did not even come from them).

Lacson also questioned how much the government is borrowing to fill in the country’s budget deficit.

In 2018, Lacson said the government’s budget deficit amounted to P677 billion.

“Ibig sabihin yung spending program natin kulang ng P677 billion. Ang napansin ko rin kahapon…nangutang tayo—para tugunan yung P677 billion—ng P897 billion na kung babawasin yung ammortization ng mga P114 billion eh lagpas pa rin dun sa pangangailangan. Meron siyang excess na P225 billion,” Lacson pointed out.

(So that means our spending program is short of P677 billion, What I noticed yesterday, we borrowed P897 billion to make up for the P677 billion. Remove the P114 billion amortization; it’s still more than what we need. We have an excess of P225 billion).

“Bakit tayo nangungutang kung ‘di naman natin gagamitin…Kung gusto kong mag-invest, negosyante ako, kung kailangan ko ng P100 million bakit ako uutang ng P150 (million)? Ano ibabangko ko lang yon o kaya ivo-vault ko?” he stressed.

(Why are we borrowing when we’re not even going to use it. If I want to invest, I’m a businessman and I need P100 million, why will I borrow P150 million? I’ll just put in a bank or a vault?).”

During the Senate budget deliberations on the proposed 2020 budget on Tuesday, Senator Sonny Angara explained to Lacson that the government was just taking advantage of the low-interest rates.

“Ang sagot naman nila, kailangan daw i-build up yung cash position, dahil mababa yung interest rates, samantalahin,” Lacson went on.

(What they told me is that the government needs to build its cash position and to take advantage of the low-interest rate).

“Pero taun-taon ganun ang nangyayari, ‘di ba? Kung nagbu-build up yung cash position, bakit utang pa rin ng higit dun sa pangangailangan, nakakapagtaka pa rin,” he added.

(But this happens every year. If we are building up our cash position, why are we still borrowing more than what we need? It’s puzzling). /gsg

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