THE Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is not the only mechanism that the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd is using to fund government programs with multi-billion savings pooled by the government, the Senate finance committee discovered on Thursday.
According to Sen. Francis Escudero, at least P90 billion worth of savings that did not fall under the DAP was released by the government to fund various programs of different government agencies including the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Escudero, who heads the finance panel, explained that based on records of the Department of Budget and Mangement (DBM), the government was able to pool P237 billion in savings since 2010 and only P167 billion was allotted for the acceleration program.
The government only approved P157 billion proposed projects under the controversial program but was able to release only P144.3 billion.
“This means there is a balance of more than P90 billion from pooled savings that were not under the DAP and we learned that the government also used this fund for other projects,” Escudero said.
The discovery was made by Sen. Nancy Binay who pointed out during the Senate panel hearing that there are some appropriations that were not on the DBM’s list of 116 projects funded by the DAP.
Binay mentioned the P4.1 billion additional funding in 2012 that the Comelec used for the 2013 mid-term elections.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told the Senate finance committee that the Comelec requested the money for the acquisition of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
Originally, the poll body asked for a P17-billion budget but it was pruned to P7 billion.
The Comelec then asked for an addition P4.1 billion for collateral software support and maintenance, traveling, training and seminar expenses, warehousing and configuration facilities for PCOS machines, synchronization of the national and local elections, software licenses and additional requirements for overseas absentee voting.
“If it is not from the DAP, where did the money come from?” Binay asked Abad.
It was at this point when the Budget secretary admitted that there are some projects that were funded by savings outside of the DAP. According to Abad, it was called regular savings.
“We’re talking about another list of projects that do not fall under the DAP but were sourced from the savings,” Binay noted.
Another issue raised during the hearing is the P5 million additional allocation received by the Commission on Audit (COA) that was also not included in the DAP list.
According to Escudero, under item 18 of the DBM list, the agency only listed IT infrastructure program and hiring of additional litigation experts amounting to P143 million.
It failed to include the P5 million released to COA for the procurement of additional vehicles.
“According to DBM, because the amount was small, they did not include it in the list. That is unacceptable because budgeting is not done that way. Everything should be included in the list,” Escudero said.
In the end, he directed the DBM to provide the committee a list of guidelines and mechanism used in utilizing the non-DAP savings in order to find out if these savings were used properly.