The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay has decried the rushed spending of the Aquino government, saying it leaves the new administration little room for its priority programs.
“The Aquino administration’s mad rush to spend during the election season has left the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte little room to work on during its first year,” Binay’s spokesman Rico Quicho said on Monday.
“After years of underspending, the administration decided to go on a spending binge obviously to swing voters to favor its chosen one but to no avail. Such recklessness will have as its casualty the priorities of the incoming administration,” he added.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P2.5 trillion or almost 84 percent of the P3 trillion national budget for 2016.
“We reiterate our call for our people to set aside political differences and support the new administration as it navigates its first year with only 16 percent of the budget,” Quicho said.
Binay’s camp previously condemned the Aquino administration’s anemic spending, especially for programs and projects to mitigate the impact of El Niño.
In the 2016 national budget, P19 billion has been allotted for subsidies, alternative livelihood projects, irrigation and other assistance projects for farmers affected by drought.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, however, refused to release in March the P900 million to the Department of Agriculture (DA) for projects intended to mitigate the effects of El Niño.
Quicho said government’s withholding of the fund led to a bloody and tragic outcome, with two people killed and more than 30 farmers injured during a protest rally in Kidapawan City in April.
He slammed DA Secretary Proceso Alcala’s claim that the agency provided seedlings for farmers.
“Our farmers have been starving since December last year. How Secretary Alcala could expect them to plant the seedlings when they are already dying of hunger is beyond me,” Quicho said.
“This just shows the administration’s utter disconnect with what’s happening on the ground,” he added.
Quicho cited earlier the failure of the administration to release funds allotted for important infrastructure projects and basic services.
He noted the Aquino administration did not push through with approved programs for 2014 by not releasing fund allocations totaling P303 billion.
The unreleased appropriations affected projects of major departments: Department of Education (P2.2 billion); Department of Public Works and Highways (P26.3 billion); Department of Agriculture (P2.6 billion); Department of Agrarian Reform (P5.8 billion); and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (P1.9 billion).
Quicho said the underspending adversely affected economic growth.
He also noted that even Abad admitted in a congressional hearing on the 2016 national budget that the backlog in the disbursement of funds and the underspending or non-release of funds affected economic growth.