Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno will discontinue the Aquino administration’s bottom-up budgeting (BuB) program, saying it is being used as a “political tool.”
In a press conference, Diokno said the government should limit the BuB program to the poorest towns.
“The first major change is discontinue the bottom-up budget because that is really a political tool to the administration,” Diokno said. “That’s a good concept but that should be applied in local budgeting,” he added.
Diokno noted that because of the BuB program, the internal revenue allotments (IRA) of local governments “ballooned to almost half a trillion pesos.”
“That’s a lot of money. That was given to them because they’re supposed to provide basic health services, social welfare. Now, these activities have already been overtaken by the national government,” he said.
BuB was introduced by the Aquino administration as an alternative to the traditional top-down budgeting.
The initiative, first implemented in 2013, provides for a participatory budgetary process by allowing local stakeholders to select priority poverty reduction programs the national government will fund.
The briefer on its website states that the BuB was implemented to “make the national budget more responsive; to encourage local governments to implement reforms; and to deepen democracy and empower citizens.”
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had allocated P35 billion for the BuB program in 2017.
Under the 2017 national budget, the DBM set aside 42 percent more funds for BuB projects. The allocation this year is P24.7 billion.
Bigger infra budget
Diokno also said government spending for “pure” infrastructure projects next year will reach P890.9 billion or 5.2 percent of the P3.35 trillion national budget.
Diokno explained that pure infrastructure spending excludes disbursements for other capital outlays such as the purchase of airplanes, police cars, new buildings and military goods, among others.
“In the Duterte administration, the 5.2 percent will be pure infrastructure and we will continue to do that in the next six years,” he said.
Diokno added that the government can even ramp up the budget for infrastructure projects to seven percent of the national budget but this will depend on the result of the proposed tax reform program and on the absorptive capacity of agencies.
The DBM chief stressed that the government has various steps to ensure that agencies will do their part in improving their absorptive capacity.
“First, the President will not tolerate incompetence. If you do not perform, you are out,” he said.
Second, major urban-based projects will be constructed 24/7, third, the yearly national budget will be passed before the end of the fiscal year and government will speed up awarding of projects.
With MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO