Recto warns of ‘dangerous gray areas’ in reenacted budget
A reenacted budget arising from a House-Senate deadlock would result in a “spending regime fraught with legal landmines,” which would grant the executive branch wide discretion on how public money will be spent, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto warned on Monday.
Recto issued the warning as he prodded the Senate and the House of Representatives to hammer out a compromise over the proposed P3.76 billion spending bill next year.
“I am a hopeless optimist. At the end of the day, I am sure whatever differences there are will be reconciled, whatever gaps there are will be bridged,” he said in a statement.
Recto said there are “dangerous gray areas” in public spending if the government would operate on a reenacted budget next year.
“Madaling magsabi na re-enacted budget na lang, pero in operational terms, mahirap gawin iyon sa panahong ito,” he said.
“To cite one example, in the case of completed projects, who will decide where the funds will be applied? In this post-DAP era, is the DBM empowered to make such expenditures in the absence of clear legislative authority?” the senator asked.
DAP is Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) while DBM is Department of Budget and Management.
“Kung may P20 million na pondo sa isang kalsada at nagasta na nung 2017, at tapos na ang proyekto, may karapatan ba ang executive na itakda kung saan ilalaan ang perang ito?”
“Will it have the power to substitute? If they will do it, then is it arrogating upon itself the power to appropriate which it does not possess in the first place?” Recto further asked.
But if the money could no longer be spent for completed projects, then the senator said it would just result in the contraction of government expenditures, which he said would drag down economic growth and derail the government’s “build, build, build” drive.
“A freeze in public spending will be bad for the economy. If we will be spending P300 billion less than what is projected, it will have a dampening effect on the overall economic scorecard,” Recto said.