Bayanihan 2 expires but DBM not worried
The Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) expired on Saturday, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)was not worried about funds that remained unspent for COVID-19 mitigation measures for which they were allocated.
“[The House of Representatives] has already passed the extension of Bayanihan 2 so we need not worry,” Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said on Saturday.
Both Houses quickly approved the extension of Bayanihan 2 and the General Appropriations Act of 2020 to prevent the reversion of the allocated funds to the National Treasury.
The House of Representatives approved the two bills extending the funds’ deadline within 24 hours after President Rodrigo Duterte certified the measures as urgent on Dec. 14. The Senate adopted the House measures the following day.
But the measures, which extend the deadline until June 2021, were still awaiting Mr. Duterte’s signature for enactment into law.
Economic managers said the extension of the two funds would make about P213 billion available for the prevention of COVID-19 and economic recovery measures.
While budget officials did not say how much of the P165.5 billion in Bayanihan 2 funds were released until Friday, data on the DBM website showed releases as of Dec. 11 amounted to P105.8 billion.
Bayanihan 2 fund releases had been slow as agencies failed to complete requirements for the release of the funds by the DBM.
Since March, or at the onset of the longest and most stringent COVID-19 lockdown in Southeast Asia, the DBM released a total of P498.5 billion for health and socioeconomic measures.
From March to June, the DBM release about P386.1 billion under the earlier Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which allowed the President to realign budget items into the COVID-19 war chest, amounted to P386.1 billion.
The DBM data showed that a net of P50.9 billion had been slashed from departments’ regular budgets as of November and instead reallocated into COVID-19 response.
Between June and September before Bayanihan 2 took effect, the DBM also released P6.6 billion to agencies to augment their COVID-19 response-related budgets.
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