Hiked discretionary spending seen in 2024 | Inquirer News

Hiked discretionary spending seen in 2024

/ 05:34 AM December 24, 2023

Arlene Brosas

Arlene Brosas —Photo from House of Representatives

A Makabayan lawmaker warned of “boundless discretionary spending” with the P731.4 billion unprogrammed appropriations in the 2024 national budget, while a House official said this would go to “anti-inflation” social services and aid programs.

Gabriela Women’s Rep. Arlene Brosas on Saturday criticized the unprogrammed appropriations as a “standby pork barrel of Marcosian proportions” that is under the President’s control.


In a statement sent to the Inquirer, Brosas said the funds ballooned from P281.9 billion in the House’s version of the national budget to P731.4 billion after the bicameral conference committee hearings.


This was an increase of P449.5 billion in unprogrammed appropriations—a sum that former and current lawmakers urged the President to veto in the P5.768 trillion national budget.

“This is such a whopping amount of standby pork that is under the President’s control, and its larger than the combined budgets of the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of Health,” Brosas said, adding that the unprogrammed appropriations also “dwarf the total confidential funds.”

Standby appropriations

She went on: “This Marcosian magnitude of standby appropriations underscores the boundless discretionary spending by the regime in 2024 in time for the upcoming midterm elections.”

The Makabayan lawmaker and House assistant minority leader noted that unprogrammed appropriations are “historically funded up to 70 to 90 percent because of excess nontax revenues and foreign loans.”

She added that these funds are “not part of the total budget ceiling” of P5.768 trillion and may be potentially funded with excess revenues of state corporations as proposed by House Bill No. 9513.

For his part, House appropriations committee chair Rep. Elizaldy Co defended the unprogrammed appropriations as it will go to “anti-inflation” social services and assistance programs.


In a message to the Inquirer, the Ako Bicol party list lawmaker thanked Mr. Marcos for being “decisive” in approving the P5.768-trillion national budget and sustaining the “unprecedented 300 percent increase” in unprogrammed appropriations.

He said this would fund anti-inflation measures for poor Filipinos, such as the Ayuda sa Kapos ang Kita or Akap, a direct cash aid program for 12 million families who will get a one-time cash aid of P5,000.

Co expressed hope that the government would have excess revenues next year to fund the unprogrammed appropriations “that would directly benefit our near poor Filipinos through aid.”

They made the remarks after Mr. Marcos vetoed only two budget items—a revolving fund of the Department of Justice and an item pertaining to the implementation of the National Government’s Career Executive Service Development Program.

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READ: Lacson urges Marcos: Veto unprogrammed budget ‘insertions’ 

TAGS: 2024 national budget, Arlene Brosas, unprogrammed budget insertions

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