House panel grills DSWD over low budget utilization
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) got a grilling at the House of Representatives on Monday over its low budget utilization in 2021.
Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo lamented how economic managers had been having a hard time financing the proposed Bayanihan 3 due to lack of funds while there were billions of unobligated funds in various agencies, including the DSWD.
According to DSWD Director of Financial Management Service Wayne Belizar, the department still has P109.747 billion unobligated funds out of its P174.8718 billion budget. This equates to an obligation rate of 37%.
“This is such a huge amount of money,” Quimbo said in Filipino. “Actually, this is saddening because we here in Congress passed Bayanihan 3, but we’re not getting support from the economic managers,” Quimbo said.
“They are always saying that the funds are depleted. But now we are finding out that there are still a lot of funds,” she added.
One of the programs with the highest unobligated balances is the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), Quimbo pointed out.
According to Belizar, AICS has a balance of P18.8 billion as of July 31, 2021, adding that from June to July this year, the agency was able to use P1 billion.
House Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera-Dy likewise questioned the low utilization rate of DSWD, specifically asking if the agency could still use the remaining balance for the remaining months of the year.
“We don’t have a solution to the long-standing problem of DSWD. To my mind, why are we putting a lot of money in this agency when they don’t have the capacity to implement it?” Herrera-Dy said.
DSWD Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova said a special order had been issued making the contractual employees of the department special disbursing officers.
“So this will increase the capacity of the department to do payouts and to conduct to disburse funds,” Relova said.
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