NAGA CITY, 2Aug2014 — Though 2014 is far from over, the Aquino administration has estimated that the national government may retain some P251.78 billion in “savings” this year, the 2015 National Expenditure Program (NEP) shows.
According to the 2015 NEP submitted to Congress last Wednesday, the government expects that some P251.78 billion of the P2.26 trillion national budget for the current year will not be spent.
Based on the adjusted values presented by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in the 2015 NEP, only P1.74 trillion of the total P2.26 trillion budget for 2014 is available. Of this amount, DBM projects that only P1.489 trillion would be spent this year.
[Click this link to view portion of 2015 NEP tackled here.]
Of the P251.78 billion estimated unused appropriation for 2014, unreleased appropriations account for P175.3 billion, while unobligated allotments account for an estimated P76.4 billion.
Unreleased appropriations are funds for approved programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) that have not been released by DBM. Meanwhile, unobligated allotments are funds already available for disbursement but have not been spent by the implementing agency for various reasons, including the final discontinuance or abandonment of a certain PAP.
“DBM’s P251.78 billion estimated savings for 2014 is greater than the actual amount spent for the 116 projects under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). With such huge savings targeted by the national government, the re-emergence of DAP or another DAP-like mechanism in the near future will likely occur,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said.
“The public needs to closely scrutinize how the government is executing the 2014 national budget. Though the government claims that DAP has already been discontinued since December 2013, a similar mechanism might be in the works to ensure that savings would be incurred,” Ridon said.
The youth legislator also emphasized that the Executive Department should not even try to implement new PAPs not covered by the 2014 General Appropriations Act through the estimated unused appropriations.
“However, I fear that the Aquino administration is at it again. Unfazed by the SC decision, the president and his cohorts might be devising a new plan to divert and malverse public funds even as we speak,” Ridon said.
Extra funds in 2013 amounted P203.4 billion
Meanwhile, the legislator also called on DBM to account for the P203.4 billion actual unused appropriations for fiscal year 2013, as is shown in the 2015 NEP.
Of the P203.4 billion actual unused appropriations for 2013, unreleased appropriations total P56.1 billion, while unobligated allotments account for P147.3 billion.
“The Executive branch must clearly disclose where these unused funds went. Did they tap the P203.4 billion unused appropriations for DAP? We are talking about billions of pesos here – a marginal note in the NEP is not enough,” Ridon said.
‘Adhere to savings priority provision of past GAAs’
The youth representative also reminded the Executive branch that in past GAAs, there are provisions in the priority in the use of actual savings.
Section 69 of Republic Act 10633, for example, states, “In the use of savings, priority shall be given to the augmentation of the amounts set aside for the payment of compensation, year-end bonus and cash gift, retirement gratuity, terminal leave benefits, old-age pension of veterans and other personnel benefits authorized by law, and those expenditure items authorized in agency special provisions and in other sections of the General Provisions in this Act.”
“Aquino and Abad know that this provision is present in all past GAAs, yet we need to ask – has this provision been considered when DAP was first invented? Did our government employees and uniformed personnel indeed receive the augmentation of their benefits as provided by the appropriation laws in past years? I think the answer is a resounding no,” Ridon said.
The youth solon said that while the earlier reported coup attempts may just be a “figment of Sen. Trillanes’ imagination,” serious unrest among government employees might arise once they realize that they have been shortchanged by the President through DAP.
“Supposedly, the savings priority provision ensures that additional benefits should be provided to government employees whenever the government has savings. But this did not happen. Instead of following the appropriation laws to the letter, Aquino invented DAP and rechanneled funds that could have gone to employees and uniformed personnel,” Ridon explained.
“The DAP controversy is not simply a question of constitutionality. It’s a question of priority. And instead of prioritizing the needs of government employees, Aquino and his cabinet first assured that the pet projects of their allies get funding first,” Ridon lamented.