DOF urged to explain P1.8-trillion loans
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) should explain in detail the P1.86-trillion in loans the government borrowed from January to July this year, a lawmaker urged Thursday.
House committee on public accounts chairperson Mike Defensor said the DOF “should account for the debt for the first seven months… for the sake of transparency.”
“People are asking questions about the borrowings, particularly where the money was used and why did we have to borrow at the time each loan was incurred,” he said in a statement.
While the public recognizes the need to borrow from foreign and domestic lenders, Defensor said the DOF, along with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), has to explain further to clear up issues.
“For instance, how much of the P1.86 trillion went to Covid-19 response measures, how much for infrastructure, how much for debt repayment, and how much for salaries, if any,” he said.
The lawmaker noted that Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado reported that as of August 28, the DBM had released a total of P389 billion for the government’s response against COVID-19.
Of the amount disbursed, Avisado said P266.53 billion came from discontinued projects, activities, and programs (PAPs), in the 2019 and 2020 budgets, P102.06 from special-purpose funds, and P20.48 from regular agency appropriations.
About P211 billion was used for the two waves of financial assistance for at least 18 million low-income families amounting to P5,000-P8,000 under the Bayanihan law.
Defensor urged DBM to specify what projects, activities, and programs have been scrapped.
“They can post these on their website, indicating the particular PAP, its funding and location. If residents feel strongly that a discontinued PAP is still needed in their community, they could push for its funding in future budgets by communicating to lawmakers, their local officials, and even directly to the DBM,” he said.
He also asked the DBM to tell Congress and the public how much the government saved from continuing lockdowns since March.
Defensor earlier proposed that because of long lockdowns, the MOOE allocation be cut by at least 20% or P320 billion, and the money be used to augment Covid-19 response funds.
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