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‘Less Saro, less red tape’

/ 06:07 AM January 04, 2014

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma: Immediate release. PHOTO BY LYN RILLON

MANILA, Philippines—With the abolition of the special allotment release order (Saro), the Aquino administration will be hitting the ground running in 2014, Malacañang officials said.

Eliminating the need for Saros—the specific authority from the budget department that allows for the release of funds to government agencies—for all government disbursements, except for lump-sum funds in the national budget, would drastically lessen government red tape, they said.

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It also signals an end to congressional and local officials’ intervention in the implementation of projects that are funded under the P2.265-trillion national budget for 2014, the biggest budget ever enacted by Congress.

Simultaneous bidding

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The public can expect the simultaneous bidding of national government-funded projects across the country to start as soon as possible, the officials said.

President Aquino is proud of this particular budgetary reform since it will eliminate the unnecessary intervention of officials in the identification and implementation of the projects, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in an interview.

Coloma said the President wanted budgetary reforms to speed up the implementation of priority programs in the “last two minutes” of his tenure.

Funds misuse

He said that the new budget-as-release document policy “assures immediate release of up to 90 percent of the entire budget directly to agencies that will, in turn, deliver services to the people promptly and without delay.”

“The President is also urging the people to participate in monitoring the progress of implementing government projects and preventing misuse of public funds,” Coloma said.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told a Palace briefing on Friday that government agencies could be expected to bid out projects as soon as possible since a Saro was no longer needed.

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The agencies can also conduct prebidding activities even before the start of the fiscal year, she said.

As early as January

“At least ideally within the first week of January, you can already award projects. Their prebidding activities (or) their preprocurement activities can already be conducted in the previous year. So, ideally, by first week of January, they can issue notices of award,” said Valte.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad last Thursday announced the abolition of Saro. That’s because the General Appropriations Act is now considered the government’s “official budget release document,” said Abad in a statement.

As a result, departments and agencies “will no longer need to secure Saros to obligate funds,” he said.

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Saro removal benefits PH, Palace says

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TAGS: Government, Philippines, Saro abolition, special allotment release order (Saro), State budget
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