Dominguez ‘quite surprised’ over DSWD’s P10B ‘savings’ from SAP fund
MANILA, Philippines — Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez III on Wednesday admitted he was “quite surprised” that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has some P10-billion unspent money from the social amelioration program (SAP) fund.
During the Senate hearing on the Department of Finance’s (DOF) proposed 2021 budget, Dominguez said he will “certainly take this up” with the country’s economic managers.
“I was quite surprised myself and will certainly take it up with the Budget Secretary and the DBCC [Development Budget Coordination Committee],” Dominguez said.
“Because under these circumstances, I will emphasize to them that we cannot save our way to prosperity. We have to spend our way to prosperity,” he noted.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon raised the matter to Dominguez during the hearing, saying the DSWD’s unspent P10 billion for cash aid beneficiaries do not align with the DOF’s budget spending policy.
“This is certainly contrary to what your policy agrees that to stimulate the economy, we must spend money particularly the government within the bounds that we have set,” Drilon said.
“I’m afraid that if this practice will go on of not spending the amount released, not appropriated, released to the agency, I’m afraid that your policy of budget spending will not bear the fruit that you are looking at,” he added.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said the agency was not able to spend the P10 billion allocated for cash assistance since the number of cash aid beneficiaries was trimmed from 18 million to 14 million.
Several senators called out DSWD for what it termed as “savings” from the SAP fund, noting that many low-income families and other sectors affected by lockdowns still clamor for financial assistance from the government.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also stressed that DSWD’s “savings” was contrary to the intent of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which was aimed to help poor families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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