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Aquino to tap P20B in gov’t savings for Central Visayas quake relief, rehab

/ 10:31 PM October 21, 2013

President Benigno Aquino III AP Photo/Malacañang Photo Bureau, Ryan Lim

MANILA, Philippines — President Aquino is bent on tapping the government’s P20 billion in savings this year to augment its calamity and contingency funds that are far too short of the P7 billion required to bring back tremor-stricken Central Visayas back on its feet.

In an ambush interview with reporters, Aquino said that only P176 million remained in the calamity fund and P824 million was left in the contingency fund or a total of P1 billion or just a fraction of the P7 billion that the Department of Public Works and Highways and other state agencies estimated that Bohol and Cebu needed to restore its infrastructure network.

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“Let us not forget (storm) Habagat and Zamboanga City (siege), we have used our calamity fund for a lot of things. Bottom line is there is a request for P7 billion and we have savings of about P20 billion.  We can get the savings to augment both line items, the contingency and calamity funds,” said the President.

Despite criticisms on the Disbursement Acceleration Program, Aquino stood pat on his administration’s policy to  treat unused funds in the first half of the year as “savings” and re-deploy them to other items in the second half of the year.

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“We conduct evaluations where we ask them if they can still use the funds allocated to them? If they admit that they could not use the funds either because they failed to hire more personnel or finish their projects on schedule, then we pool that into savings that can now be re-aligned into items that appear on the budget,” said Aquino.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Bohol, Cebu, Central Visayas, discretionary funds, Earthquake, Government, Natural Disasters, Regions, State budget
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