DBM to review legislators’ P80-B budget realignment
The over P80 billion in funds earlier realigned by some legislators from the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget, which were however withheld by the executive, might still be released—but only after a review by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and only if there are projects ready for rollout.
This was confirmed by the DBM in a statement released on Thursday.
According to the agency, “Congress-introduced increases in appropriations and new budgetary items in the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which did not undergo the usual budget evaluation process … will be subjected to compliance with documentation requirements” before the DBM recommends their release.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday claimed that the executive had withheld the release of at least P80 billion in funds earlier realigned by some House representatives to “pet projects” in their congressional districts.
According to Lacson, the DBM, the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Office of the President found out that these realignments had been taken from some of the flagship infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there was still a chance that the P80 billion in withheld congressional realignments might be released—as long as there is a need for them and they undergo a rigorous process.
At a press briefing, Panelo confirmed Lacson’s claim that the DBM had withheld the release of the P80 billion by way of a DBM circular “for later release.”
But Panelo quoted Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado as saying that the P84 billion “will not be released immediately but [would depend] on the need for their release. In other words, there will be a process.”
Panelo said there was no instruction from the Palace for the DBM to withhold the release of the realigned funds. The DBM, he added, did not see any irregularity in the funds.
The DBM has maintained that “increases and new budgetary items introduced … by Congress shall be subject to the national government’s cash programming and prudent observance of responsible fiscal management, applicable rules and procedures during budget execution, and approval by the President based on the programmed priorities of the government.”
The latest DBM data showed that P2.1 trillion, or 51.8 percent of the 2020 budget, were already released in January.
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