Solon: Amid underspending, Aquino’s office asking for too much
Considering its trend in underspending appropriations, the Office of the President may be setting a “negative example” to other government agencies when it proposed a P2.825-billion budget for 2016, a lawmaker said on Thursday.
During the House appropriations committee hearing on the proposed budget of the office, Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said it may be asking for too much.
“Ang lumalabas dito ngayon humihingi kayo ng 2.8 billion, lumalabas dito sobra sobra ‘yung hinihingi niyo. Bakit pa ibibigay ng kongreso ‘yung 2.8 billion kung meron pa pala kayong 2.5 billion from 2014 na hindi pa nagagamit?” Tinio told Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.
“’Di niyo naman pala nagagamit ‘yung budget na hinihingi niyo,” he added.
But Ochoa said only P660 million remains unallocated in the 2014 budget, adding that they have already obligated P898 million out of the P2.5 billion budget in 2015.
“We have already earmarked those budget. Then there’s a bigger portion that we budgeted in 2014 which is called the international commitments fund, and that is intended to support the expenditure for the hosting of Apec,” Ochoa said.
The OP led by Ochoa proposed a P2.825-billion budget for 2016, 10-percent higher than its P2.567 billion budget this year.
The proposed expenses for personnel services, which amounted to P771 million, increased from P636 million in 2015.
Maintaining and other operating expenses also slightly increased from P1.91 billion this year to P1.95 in 2016.
The capital outlay, meanwhile, increased from P20 million in 2015 to P96 million next year.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares also grilled Ochoa over the reported P7.5 billion that the Department of Transportation and Communications was seeking from the Department of Budget and Management as penalty payments for unfulfilled obligations to the Ayala-Metro Pacific Investments consortium over the Light Rail Transit Line 1 Cavite Extension project.
Linking the issue with the public clamor to slash income taxes, Colmenares said the government “showers” private corporations with money instead of lessening the burden of hapless taxpayers.
“Why does it have to be guaranteed? The moment ibigay, saan kukunin ang pambayad diyan? Nalulula kami sa perang pinamimigay ng gobyerno sa mga private corporations,” Colmenares said.
But Ochoa said there was legal basis for the penalty payments, a form of sovereign guarantee which will be sourced from the P30-billion Risk Management Program fund for performance undertaking under the national budget.
“Sovereign guarantee is allowed by law. Part of the reason why we allow it is to obtain credit from various sources, including international sources,” Ochoa said. Yuji Vincent Gonzales/RC