Ex-nat’l treasurer urges vigilance on 2014 GAA
By Juancho Gallarde/Daily Star Negros Oriental, March 22, 2014
A lecture on the 2014 national budget was held at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, yesterday, with Leonor Briones of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance as resource person.
During the first of the series of lectures, titled “Iskul-Bukol: The 2014 national budget and its implications”, Briones, lead convenor of the Social Watch Philippines, said everybody should be concerned about where the budget goes and how it is being spent since everybody pays taxes, not only the income tax earners but all others through the 12 percent value-added tax on food items, transportation, and services.
She said she considers the Priority Development Assistance Fund as one “bukol (lump)”, and the Special Purpose Fund of the President the mother of all “bukols” as it amounted to P282.5 billion, or 21 percent, of the General Appropriations Act.
Briones, who is the chair of the Board of Trustees of SU, said the SPF is of special interest to civil societies because it is where the PDAF, or pork barrel, is hidden, like the P46.2 billion budgetary support to government owned and controlled corporations, like the NFA, NEA, NIA, SSS; the P19.5 billion allocation to local government units; P13 billion for the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, P20 billion for the rehab and rehabilitation program, a contingency fund of P1 billion, and the DepEd school building program of P1 billion.
She said the PDAF merely migrated to five executive departments of the government in the 2014 GAA, like the Department of Health with P3.19 billion, for indigent patients of the Philippine General Hospital and West Visayas Hospital; Department of Social Welfare and Development, P4.09B, for individuals and families in especially difficult circumstances; Commission on Higher Education, P4.096B, as assistance, incentives, scholarships and grants; and Department of Labor and Employment, P2.048B, for trainings, livelihood and enterprise development and other capacity building programs for students, youths, and disabled workers and rural workers.
Briones also said Central Visayas has the lowest budget allocation in the regionalized portion of the 2014 national budget, with P224.7 billion or 18 percent. The highest is that of Luzon with P726 billion or 58 percent, followed by Mindanao, P301.1 billion or 24 percent, based on the National Statistics Coordination Board records.
She added that the public should be aware of the Automatic Appropriations since the allotment is not reviewed by Congress. The AA amount to P796.029B in this year’s GAA, with P352.65B as payment of debt interest, and P341.54B as Internal Revenue Allotment for LGUs.
Briones called on taxpayers to be vigilant in tracking the P139 billion unprogrammed funds of the government, and the off-budget items, worth P40 billion, that includes direct remittances from PAGCOR, PCSO, and the road users tax.
Ex-nat’l treasurer urges vigilance on