Pimentel bares P450-B hike in 2024 unprogrammed funds
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Monday revealed the “close to tripling” of the proposed unprogrammed funds in next year’s national budget.
From Malacanang’s original proposal of P281.9 billion, Pimentel said the unprogrammed funds jumped to P731.4 billion after the bicameral conference committee meetings on the P5.768 trillion General Appropriation Bill (GAB) for 2024.
This, he said, resulted in P450-billion increase in the unprogrammed funds.
“May we know what happened, Mr. President? How come it’s more than doubling. It’s actually close to tripling the the proposed unprogrammed operations by the executive, Mr. President?” Pimentel asked Senator Sonny Angara on the Senate floor.
As chairman of the upper chamber’s finance committee, Angara headed the Senate contingent to the bicameral committee.
Angara first confirmed the figures mentioned by the Minority Leader.
“Yes, the gentleman is correct as to the figure and the reason is to carve out fiscal space in the programmed appropriations for other items that are proposed by our colleagues, both here and in the house, your honor,” he explained.
Pimentel then sought to clarify if the P450 billion hike in the unprogrammed funds was transferred from the programmed funds.
Angara again confirmed this, explaining that the transfer of funds was the result of the amendments made to various departments.
Pimentel, however, pointed out the budgetary cuts in the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), the Pension and Gratuity Fund (PGF),and even in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth).
According to him, MPBF was slashed by P36 billion while PGF and Philhealth funds were both cut by P40 billion.
“I’m just worried with this practice, Mr. President because from P281.9 billion and the ending is P731.4 billion, definitely that was not envisioned by the executive branch. Mr. President,” Pimentel said.
“So that’s just a concern that I am raising, Mr. President, because I also observed this last year, actually, Mr. President,” he added.
Despite these issues raised by the opposition senator, the Senate went on to ratify the budget measure.
Once ratified by the Senate and the House of Representatives, the bill will be transmitted to Malacañang for the President’s signature.