The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Friday shot down claims that the proposed 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) is an “election budget” meant to enhance the chances of administration candidates in 2016.
Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said the proposed P 2.606 trillion national budget is a “rationalized budget” that addresses government priorities.
Social Watch Philippines Lead Convenor Professor Leonor Magtolis Briones raised suspicions that some allocations in the proposed GAA might be funneled to the campaign chest of the administration for the 2016 elections.
Briones said the budget is similar to the 2012 budget that preceded the 2013 elections.
“The government cranks up spending for infrastructure and construction the year before elections. Concrete projects create the impression of growth, though it is a challenge to sustain this growth for the next years,” she added.
But Abad refuted Briones’ claim, saying the government will immediately implement programs funded under the GAA.
“With the way we have reformed the budget process, you can implement it right away. You can implement the budget on the year it was enacted,” he told reporters.
Abad denied that a big chunk of the 2015 budget would go to vote-rich provinces.
“It prioritizes the poorest and most vulnerable localities and tailor-fits interventions according to their specific needs,” he said.
Abad explained that the budget will be allocated to support inclusive development in areas which were identified based on budget priorities framework.
The framework identifies geographical areas with corresponding strategies and interventions such as high poverty magnitude, high poverty incidence and high disaster risk.
“This is the first time in budgeting history that the budget operates in the budget framework and that is not dictated by partisan considerations,” Abad said.
He also dismissed Briones’ claims that the P501-billion lump sum and automatic appropriations in the budget were actually the President’s pork barrel.
The assessment conducted by Briones’ group of the 2015 budget found that practically half of the outlay can be considered lump sums due to the lack of details and mechanisms for clear accountability, opening it to abuse.
“How can calamity fund become pork barrel?” Abad asked.