• Itemizing lump sums seen preventing underspending


    Heads of government agencies who are scheduled to present the proposed P3.35-trillion national budget for 2017 have been reminded to itemize lump-sums in order to prevent delays in implementation of projects and also promote transparency.

    Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto on Sunday issued the reminder as the Senate finance committee begins its panel hearing on the proposed 2017 national budget with a briefing by the Development Budget Coordination Committee today.

    Recto noted that breaking down the so-called “block allocations” under the budget could help ensure fast completion of projects and programs that the government has laid down for next year.

    “In part, our recent experience with underspending was a result of the absence of a detailed listing of projects,” he said.

    The senator was referring to an official tally that government underspending totaled P623 billion during the administration of then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

    Recto cited the 43,000 new classrooms funded by the 2016 national budget but only a miniscule fraction was completed in time for the opening of classes last June.

    The senator said that while the P37.2 billion proposed for the calamity fund and the P142.3 billion recommended for the pension and gratuity fund cannot be fully broken down, other huge lump sums like those for classroom construction, right-of-way of national roads, social protection and farm projects should be itemized.

    He noted that under Department of Education’s P542.3-billion proposed outlay for 2017, P118.8 billion will be for the construction, repair or purchase of “basic education facilities” such as classrooms, science laboratories, toilets, chairs and other equipment.


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