DA’s massive budget for programs stumps Villar: ‘Parang naghimala’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Cynthia Villar was in disbelief that the bulk or 80 percent of the proposed 2023 Department of Agriculture (DA) budget would go to the agency’s programs.
“Parang mali’ yan. Inilipat mo sa programs’ yung other classifications,” Villar said while DA officials were presenting their budget proposal of P163.7 billion during the hearing of the Senate subcommittee on finance on Tuesday.
(I think that’s wrong. You transferred the other classifications to programs.)
Of the DA’s proposed budget for next year, 80.36 percent or P131.5 billion, would go to programs and projects. In comparison, the rest would be distributed to personnel services (7.48 percent or P12.2 billion), overhead (9.22 percent or P15.09 billion), regulatory (1.72 percent or P2.8 billion), and research (1.22 percent or P1.99 billion).
“Wala pa akong nakitang department na ganyan. ‘Yang breakdown mo parang mali ‘yan. I-explain mo sakin ‘yan in private kasi wala pa akong nakitang department na ganyan ang hitsura. Eighty percent ang programs? I don’t think so,” said Villar, who was presiding over the hearing.
(I haven’t seen a department like that. I think your breakdown is wrong. Explain that to me in private because I haven’t seen a department that looks like that. Eighty percent are for programs? I don’t think so.)
“Baka minis-classify ninyo ‘yan. I want to see the breakdown, there’s something wrong here,” she continued.
Villar recalled that in the past, the agency’s proposed overhead had even reached 61 percent of the budget so she proposed to reduce it to only 50 percent.
“Tapos ngayon sasabihin mo overheard mo is 20 percent kasama na ang research and regulatory? That’s impossible. There’s something wrong,” she stressed.
(And now you’re saying the overhead is 20 percent, including research and regulatory? That’s impossible. There’s something wrong.)
“Hindi pwede na noon eh 60 percent biglang nawala ang mga empleyado ninyo, hindi pwede ‘yun. That was in 2016. Hindi naman pwedeng nawala ang mga empleyado ninyo. Bakit biglang ang liit-liit ng PS (personnel services) and overhead ninyo.”
(It can’t be that before 60% suddenly your employees disappeared. That can’t be. That was in 2016. It cannot be that your employees have disappeared. Why is it that suddenly your personnel services and overhead shrunk.)
DA Undersecretary Rodolfo Vicera then asked the senator if they could just make another presentation on Wednesday to address her question.
But Villar went on explaining that she just wants to see a general idea of how the agency is spending its budget for next year.
She reiterated that the DA’s breakdown of the budget was “very different” from the presentation by different administrations.
“Masyadong mataas ang programs na ito. Walang department na nakaka-80 percent sa program. ‘Yun ngang 45 percent hirap na hirap na sila eh, 55 (percent) for PS and overhead, and ‘yung 45 percent hirap na hirap na sila. How come your (budget for) programs is 80 percent?”
(Your budget for programs is too high. No department has allocated 80 percent for the program. It isn’t easy to have 45 percent and 55 percent for PS and overhead. How come your [budget for] programs is 80 percent?)
“Parang naghimala. Hindi posible ito kasi your PS and overhead is parang consistent ‘yan kasi hindi ninyo naman pwedeng tanggalin ‘yung mga empleyado ninyo bigla di ba? It can vary siguro within 10 percent pero hindi ganito kataas… This is not possible by just seeing it,” she further said.
(It’s like there’s a miracle. This is not possible because your PS and overhead are consistent because you cannot just remove employees abruptly, right? Maybe it can vary within 10 percent but not this high… This is not possible by just seeing it.)
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