DPWH budget has P544 billion in potential pork – Pimentel
MANILA, Philippines — A total of P544 billion in lump sum appropriations in the proposed budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for 2023 may just end up as pork barrel of lawmakers, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III warned on Sunday.
“Budgeting via lump sums does not conform to the spirit and requirements of our budget law and policy,” Pimentel told the Inquirer.
“Lump sum funds lack details. The policy of the law is ‘line item budget,’ meaning ‘as detailed as possible.’ Lump sum [budgeting] is the work of lazy people,” he added.
Such budgeting practice, he noted, “lacks transparency. Hence, it is not to be desired.”
“What I fear the most is that it could be a rich source of pork barrel funds. That is why DPWH should disaggregate them and publicize the details immediately,” Pimentel said in a separate statement.
In 2013, the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the allocation of pork barrel, officially known as Priority Development Assistance Fund, and similar lump sum allotments in the national budget.
According to the Senate minority leader, the unspecified allotments were about 75 percent of the DPWH’s proposed budget of P718 billion as stated under the Marcos administration’s P5.3-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for next year.
Last week, the House of Representatives concluded its plenary debates on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first national spending program as it approved the NEP, which would then be transmitted to the Senate as the General Appropriations Bill.
“This is no small amount,” Pimentel said. “Every peso in the budget should be disaggregated. Hiding billions of pesos in lump sum funds is nothing new. Let’s shun this practice.”
Among the questionable outlay was P214 billion for “convergence and special support programs,” which included P105 billion for Sustainable Infrastructure Projects Alleviating Gap and P52 billion for Basic Infrastructure Program.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.