Proposed 2015 budget riddled with ‘lumps’
By Estrella Torres / BusinessMirror, 24 March 2014
Former National Treasurer and Social Watch Convener Prof. Leonor Briones pressed on Tuesday the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to disclose details on the more than half of the P2.606-trillion proposed budget for 2015, particularly President Aquino’s discretionary funds and debt-servicing allocation.
The DBM, she said, has not provided the public a clearer picture of the 2015 national budget notably the Special Purpose Funds (SPF) which she describes as another “lump” in the budget similar to the controversial pork-barrel funds.
Briones said only 47 percent, or P1.231 trillion, of the proposed P2.606-trillion national budget has been disclosed in the budget calls memoranda of the DBM and nothing on the rest of the allocations.
“Where goes the more than half of the 2015 budget...especially the Special Purpose Funds?” asked Briones during the series of the forum on “IskulBukol” on the lumps of the national budget held recently at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City.
She said although the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) known as the pork-barrel fund have been realigned to key line agencies, “the 2014 national budget is [still] filled with lumps, lump-sum appropriations where transparency and accountability are hard to establish.”
“In the physical system, the lumps are often indicators of illness. It’s the same with the budget. The government has supposedly excised the PDAF, but a closer look into the budget shows us that the pork-barrel system is very much alive,” Briones said.
She said among the questionable items in the 2014 budget include the P139.9-billion unprogrammed funds that are not part of the General Appropriations Act, as well as the P 282.5-billion SPF. The disbursement of these funds, according to Briones, will not be subjected to regular auditing.
Briones also said the 2014 national budget also allocated P793.53 billion for debt servicing for principal with interest.
She said these specific allocations are not contained in the budget ceilings for 2015 national budget issued by the DBM.