Abad explains ‘various projects’ in 2015 budget
MANILA, Philippines—Accused of inserting pork barrel items into the proposed 2015 budget, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released more details on how the government intends to spend P20.8 billion under the so-called Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP).
The list uploaded in the DBM website details items previously mentioned only as “various projects,” “projects to be determined,” or “projects to be identified” in the national expenditure program for 2015.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Thursday said these projects were labeled as such only because the initial proposals “did not qualify under [the] menu” provided under the GPBP.
“But the replacement projects could not be submitted in time for the submission of the budget to Congress. Thus, the label,” he said in a text message.
He said the projects will be included in the budget deliberations in the House of Representatives.
The GPBP has replaced the bottom-up budgeting (BuB) system, whose allocation amounted to P8.397 billion in 2013, covering 595 local government units. This year, BuB appropriations ballooned to P20 billion covering 1,226 LGUs.
A joint memorandum dated Nov. 26, 2013, formally replaced the BuB with the GPBP “to ensure the inclusion of the funding requirements for the development needs as they are identified at the local level in the budget proposals of participating agencies.”
Based on the memo, the GPBP as an “approach” to budget preparation identifies projects based on “local poverty reduction action plans” that the LGUs drew up, “with [the] strong participation of basic sector organizations and other civil society organizations.”
The GPBP in the proposed P2.606-trillion budget for 2015 includes a P1.37-billion lump sum placed under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and another P1.71 billion under the Department of Agriculture.
Another GPBP lump sum amounted to P2.78 billion under the Local Government Support Fund (LGSF), P83.3 million under the National Electrification Administration, and P112.5 million under the National Irrigation Administration.
A total of P469.7 million was allotted for projects listed only as “various roads” for some 100 towns. Some 50 other towns were listed as “projects to be determined” with a combined funding of P202.1 million.
Administration Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc of Pampanga earlier assailed the alleged lump-sum appropriations under the GPBP.
“It is disappointing that what was originally intended as a consultative method of funding for poverty reduction projects has been turned into a vehicle for traditional patronage politics,” he said.
In Caloocan, for instance, a P3.012-million allocation was set aside for a “project [still] to be determined.” It was the same story in Malabon (P4 million), Las Piñas (P1.16 million) and Marikina (P171,000).
In Pangasinan, one “project to be identified” in San Jacinto town got funding of P12.5 million, while another one in Malasiqui was worth P7.26 million.
In Misamis Oriental, an P8.5-million allocation for Laguindingan was listed only as “various LGSF projects,” and so was a P6.02-million project in Salay town.
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