THE Senate finance committee has identified at least 10 large lump sum items in the proposed P2.26 trillion 2014 budget that need to be broken down and subjected to “line item” budgeting as part of fresh efforts to ensure transparency in government expenditures.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, during the hearing on the 2014 National Expenditure Program (NEP), asked members of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) to supply the implementation details of at least 10 huge projects amounting to P96 billion that will be carried out by five government agencies next year.
“If we are looking for a template that can be followed in breaking down huge but vague allocations, then maybe we can start by specifying where classrooms, health centers, farm-to-market roads will be built,” Recto noted.
Among the projects which the senator wants be subjected to line-item budgeting are the P12 billion Farm-to-Market Road and P5.1 billion Irrigation projects of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Public Works and Highway’s (DPWH) P2.5 billion Right-of-Way project, P11.3 billion request for various infrastructure including local projects and the P1.9 billion feasibility studies, engineering designs funds; the Department of Education’s P37.7 billion Classroom Construction, Repair, and Replacement fund; the P2.5 billion livelihood programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the P13.3 billion health facilities enhancement program of the Department of Health (DOH).
Recto also wants the concerned government agency to provide details on the P7.2 billion Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) Program and the P2.5 billion E-Government Fund.
He pointed out that if the DSWD can compile a registry of 21.5 million beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program complete with the addresses or recipients, there is no reason why other agencies like the DA can’t acquire details on areas where irrigation canals will be built.
Recto also sees no harm in listing down the location of the 43,183 classrooms the DepEd plans to build or repair “so children studying in crowded rooms will be assured that relief is on the way and so that people on the ground can monitor their construction.”
In the case of the DPWH’s P11.3 billion request for various infrastructure projects, Recto said Congress will be remiss in its duties “if this will be approved sans specifics.”