• House set to approve 2015 budget with expanded savings

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    THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IS SCHEDULED TO HOLD A MARATHON HEARING ON FRIDAY NIGHT TO BE ABLE TO PASS THE P2.606-TRILLION NATIONAL BUDGET FOR 2015 BEFORE ITS THREE-WEEK BREAK ON SEPTEMBER 27. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

    THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IS SCHEDULED TO HOLD A MARATHON HEARING ON FRIDAY NIGHT TO BE ABLE TO PASS THE P2.606-TRILLION NATIONAL BUDGET FOR 2015 BEFORE ITS THREE-WEEK BREAK ON SEPTEMBER 27. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

    The House of Representatives was poised on late Friday to approve on second reading the proposed P2.606 trillion proposed budget for 2015—which allows the declaration of savings midyear.

    Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said that such a move is not much different from the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) which defines savings as unspent programmed appropriations as a result of unfilled positions, discontinuance or abandonment of the program/activity/project (PAP) for justifiable causes, non-commencement of the PAP and decreased cost resulting from improved efficiency during the implementation of after the completion by agencies of their PAP to deliver the targets and services.

    For the proposed 2015 budget, the definition of savings has been expanded to include unspent appropriations from unfinished PAP within the first semester—a timeline which was not provided in the past.

    “We will stick with what is [provided]in the GAA. The intention of the budget is to spend, not to keep. There will only be savings if the budget is not spent according to what it is intended for,” Ungab said in a chance interview.

    He said the government expects only 2.5 percent of the proposed budget or P65 billion to go to savings.

    “For the 2015 budget, much of the allocations are disaggregated, and that means the implementation [of programs]will be faster,” Ungab said.

    Under the proposed 2015 budget, savings should be used to augment existing items in the 2015 General Appropriations Bill and that the appropriation will be increased under the office which accumulated the savings.

    The House had wanted to sharpen the definition of savings after the Supreme Court outlawed the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)— a spending scheme implemented by the Aquino administration in October 2011 until 2012 which allowed the President to realign the unused appropriations of agencies to the priority programs of government, including those proposed by lawmakers.

    The Supreme Court ruled that savings can only be declared at the end of the year and that cross-border transfers of savings are not allowed.

    Budget by Sector
    The Social Services sector got the lion’s share with a P967 billion allocation or 37.1 percent.
    Economic Services has the biggest increase, with P700.2 billion or P107.1 billion more than its allocation for 2014.

    General Public Services accounted for P423.1 billion or 16.2 percent, followed by Debt Burden with P399.4 billion or 15.3 percent and Defense with P115.5 billion or 4.4 percent.

    The budget priorities, on the other hand, include Social Protection and Social Services, Enabling Environment for Inclusive Development, Job Creation and Economic Expansion and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

    The Social Protection and Social Services is broken down to P64.7 billion for CCT covering 4.4 billion beneficiaries and P37.2 billion for Health Insurance for 15.5 million people.

    The Enabling Environment for Inclusive Development includes the P2.7 billion Bangsamoro Basic law budget and P7.3 million for implementation of peaceful resettlements.

    The Job Creation and Economic Expansion, for its part, covers P174.5 billion for roads and bridges, P2 billion for work scholarship training under agri-fishery, tourism, semi-conductor and electronics sector, and P592 million for the renovation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-1.

    Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation initiatives list P45.1 billion for flood control under the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, P139 million for ensuring cleaner air and P99 million for waterways.

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