Explain underspending, Escudero asks Palace
Even as it asks for a P3-trillion budget for 2016, the administration will have to do some explaining to Congress why it has been underspending previous appropriations, according to Sen. Francis Escudero, who chairs the Senate finance committee.
“Congress has been scrambling to pass the budget swiftly, but when it comes to implementation, it slows down because of the numerous spending humps. It is useless to appropriate huge sums on time when these are spent slowly,” Escudero said in a statement.
The senator said the Senate will have to scrutinize Malacañang’s proposed P3.002-trillion spending plan to address the problem of the slow utilization of funds, which he said interferes with the economy’s ability to reach its full potential.
“This is the administration’s last hurrah against underspending. We’ll be asking them how they can win in the final round,” Escudero said.
He spoke of the perils of underspending, which he said deprives Filipinos of essential public goods and services, such as better education and healthcare, and more roads and bridges.
It is the government’s duty to ensure that the people’s taxes are spent for their benefit promptly, he added.
Escudero said the Senate hearings on the proposed 2016 budget would focus on both future spending and the progress of current projects.
He attributed the underspending problem to the low absorptive capacities of agencies, which he said may be asking for more funds than they can handle.
“I think that’s one of the reasons for the budgetary indigestion. Ordering more or being given more than what it can process,” he said.
According to Escudero, underspending has been a persistent problem of the Aquino administration.
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