THE savings that the government may generate this year because of underspending could provide the executive department additional funds that it can use or realign to other line items in the budget similar to the Disbursement Acceleration Fund (DAP), former Senator Panfilo Lacson warned Sunday.
According to Lacson, the decision of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to stop the continuing appropriations policy on the budget has limited the lifespan of allocated funds to one year but also allowing the executive to realign funds that were not used during the period.
He explained that when continuing appropriations is still in effect, the budget allocated for line items can still be used for the same items the following year.
“But Secretary (Florencio) Abad stopped it and insist that budget must be used within the year it was appropriated. If that is the case, then there will be no option but to realign it,” Lacson said in a radio interview aired over DZBB.
He explained that when continuing appropriations was allowed, the budget appropriated for this year can still be used next year for the same line item, preventing realignment.
“The question is if the allocation on several line items for 2015 will not be implemented, will it be free for all? It will be declared savings that the President can reallocate on whatever item he wants,” the former senator added.
He added that such a scenario can be likened to DAP, which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in 2014.
The government is being criticized for its underspending, the reason why DAP was introduced in the first place.
Based on the records of the DBM, there was over P500 billion unspent fund from the 2013 and 2014 budget that could still be used in 2015.
Lacson said he is wondering why Malacanang asked for a P3 trillion budget in 2016 when there are still unused funds from the previous years as well as the expected savings for 2015 which may reach billions.
Of the P500 billion unspent fund from 2014 and 2013, P110.1 billion was for continuing appropriations, P116.3 billion was unreleased, and P275.7 billion was unobligated, or unused by government agencies.
Lacson said it is proper for Congress to question government underspending before passing the P3-trillion proposed budget for next year.
“They should also question why the government failed to spend more than P500 billion funding in the 2014 general appropriations act (GAA),” he added.