2015 budget free of ‘pork’

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Appropriations also devoid of DAP-like funds – Senate
Revisions in the 2015 national budget by the Senate would be compliant with Supreme Court rulings on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), according to Sen. Francis Escudero.

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“Remember this is a post-DAP, post-PDAF budget, so the Palace should welcome efforts to validate if the provisions indeed follow the jurisprudence laid down by the High Court,” Escudero said on Tuesday.

More than P90 billion from the P2.6-trillion proposed national budget for 2015 will be affected by changes in funding levels to be introduced by the members of the Senate as the chamber began its floor debate on Tuesday.

Escudero, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, vowed to make substantial improvements in the House-approved expenditure proposal of the executive branch and have them approved by the Senate this month.

According to him, the amendments to the proposed budget will not be merely “cosmetic” but major changes to ensure that funds for next year are used properly.

“What we’ll do is reduce overhead, increase funding for frontline services, put money in programs that have been overlooked,” he said.

Escudero added that about P91.82 billion will be affected by the changes in the funding levels or by provisions governing its use to guarantee substantial allocations for education, health, nutrition and rehabilitation and reconstruction.

He explained that a thorough scrutiny of lump sums listed under next year’s spending package would give the finance committee some “budget space” to realign funds and identify programs the allocations for which can be put to good use elsewhere.

Escudero said while the Senate is set to introduce major changes in the 2015 budget, there will be no cuts that will hurt the budget of government offices facing funding adjustments, noting that most realignments will be done within the agency.

According to him, the chamber will also tackle some items in the P43.64-billion errata presented by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that senators found unacceptable.

DBM has submitted last-minute changes in the proposed 2015 budget, giving additional funding to different government agencies namely the Social Welfare and Development, Transportation and Communications, Health and Finance departments; International Commitment Fund; Commission on Audit; Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund; and Pension and Gratuity Fund.

The National Expenditure Program amounts to P2.6 trillion, about 15 percent higher than this year’s P2.265-trillion budget.

By recipient agency, the Department of Education (DepEd) leads the top 10 with P365.1 billion followed by Public Works and Highways, P300.5 billion; Defense, P144 billion; Local Government, P141.4 billion; Socila Welfare and Development, P109 billion; Health, P102.2 billion; Agriculutre (including budgetary support to National Food Authority, Philippine Coconut Authority and National Irrigation Administration), P88.8 billion; Transportation, P59 billion; Environment and Natural Resources, P21.3 billion; and Science and Technology, P19.4 billion.

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