ALMOST 84 percent of the 2015 national budget allotted for government departments and agencies had been released as of end-May, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
In a statement on Wednesday, the DBM said the total allotments released for the first five months of 2015 amounted to P2.19 trillion, or 83.9 percent of this year’s P2.606 trillion national budget.
It said the total allotments comprised two categories of releases: those covering the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and releases for Automatic Appropriations.
Releases from the GAA reached P1.37 trillion, while releases under Automatic Appropriations totaled P814.78 billion during the period.
The DBM said the releases were consistent with the national government’s GAA-as-Release-Document (GAARD) regime, which was first implemented at the start of 2014.
Under GAARD, departments and agencies can begin obligating funds, start procurement procedures, and enter into contracts without securing a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) from DBM.
The GAA is used as the official release document, which facilitates speedier project execution and reduces bottlenecks.
“With the majority of the allotments for agencies already released, we can now concentrate on improving expenditure levels across the bureaucracy. We’ve also enacted measures that would make budget execution more efficient to help us ramp up public disbursements,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.
Abad also appealed to the government’s major implementing agencies, particularly those with hefty budgets and large-scale programs, to make the most of the funds that have already been released to them.
“When government departments and agencies don’t spend efficiently, we won’t just be looking at slower economic growth. We’re also looking at potential delays in the delivery of public goods and services,” he said.
The DBM chief also noted that the national government is already implementing measures to improve public spending, but stressed that a lot of institutional weaknesses still need to be addressed to accelerate spending and support further economic growth in the country.
“Agencies will have to work closely with us so we can achieve this,” Abad said.
Among the measures to improve planning capacities in the national and local governments is the creation of a sub-committee of the Development Budget Coordinating Coordination Committee that will be tasked to look into and evaluate project proposals costing less than P1 billion, he said.
This sub-committee will be headed by the National Economic Development Authority.
Also, the national government plans to strengthen the Public-Private Partnership Center with more staff while granting additional budgetary support for the Project Development and Monitoring Facility.