• Speaker Belmonte welcomes abolition of Saro

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    House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Friday welcomed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)’s move to abolish the special allotment release order (Saro) system following the fake Saro scheme that surfaced in November.

    Belmonte said that it was already the part of the budget reforms being undertaken by the administration, whether or not the fake Saro scheme surfaced last year.

    “[It was a] good move. It would have happened regardless of the fake Saro story as it was part of the reform in the 2014 budget,” he said in a text message.

    Without the issuance of a Saro, projects will implemented quicker and the fund that will be released will already be based on the approved General Appropriations Act (GAA), Belmonte added.

    House Committee on Appropriations Chair Isidro Ungab of Davao City seconded Belmonte’s statement and said that the budget implementation process not only be faster but also much more efficient.

    “It will make [the]implementation of the budget faster and more efficient since all the items in the GAA are already considered as released,” he said. “It is in accordance with the GAA 2014. In fact, this procedure was deliberated during the budget hearings.”

    A Saro is a document that allows the release of funds and is issued to one or more agencies. It allows agencies to incur obligations that should not exceed the amount during a specified period indicated in the document.

    In October last year, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) started the probe on the fake Saro scheme, which was deemed operated by a syndicate inside the DBM.

    The 12 Saros that were faked totaled to P875 million and were supposedly be used in Cagayan Valley and Western Visayas until it was found out to be fake. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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