2015 budget ‘legalizes’ DAP | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News | News Philippines
Home  » News » National » 2015 budget ‘legalizes’ DAP

2015 budget ‘legalizes’ DAP

Militant lawmakers vow to block new definitions for ‘savings’

New definitions for “savings” in the proposed P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015 have virtually legalized some of the acts under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

The Supreme Court (SC) had earlier declared some key acts under the DAP as unconstitutional.

With this major legal setback, President Aquino has asked Congress to institutionalize two budgetary terms in the proposed 2015 budget – allow the declaration of savings in the middle of the year as well as impose a one-year validity of appropriations.

The President made the proposal as the executive branch seeks to “de-clog the budget implementation process” and enable agencies to implement their programs and projects as early as possible.

The SC had ruled that the executive branch erred in the declaration

of savings in the middle of a fiscal period since it violated the definition of savings on previous General Appropriations Act (GAA) that it can only be utilized by the end of the year.

With the executive branch’s move, progressive solons said they will not think twice to block the passage of a legislation that would alter the definition of “savings” in the proposed 2015 budget to make it “custom fit” for the supposed continued implementation of the DAP projects.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon accused the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) of changing the definition of savings in the 2015 National Expenditure Program (NEP) to fit the specifications for the DAP.

FISCAL DICTATORSHIP

Ridon warned his colleagues against giving in to DBM’s whims, saying that “redefining savings to tailor-fit the President’s embattled DAP is like legalizing corruption.”

“This will be tantamount to fully surrendering the congressional power of the purse to the President. Passing this new definition would usher in a new age of fiscal dictatorship, wherein the checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution would all wilt away,” he said.

Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate also assailed Malacañang for its bid to redefine savings, saying the move “undermines the Congress’s power of the purse and destroys the systems of checks and balance.”

“This new definition will unduly delegate to the President the power to re-appropriate budget in the middle of fiscal year,” Colmenares said.

He added: “President Aquino is insisting that his unconstitutional acts be entrenched in the national budget. That is an act of defiance against the Supreme Court ruling.”

For his part, Zarate said Aquino is committing a “budget dictatorship.”

“This is patently unconstitutional and runs smack of castrating Congress in performing one of its primary duties. President Aquino’s moves also indicate that he wants to do away with the budget deliberations and oversight of Congress and concentrate this upon himself,” he stressed.

WHAT THE PRESIDENT SAY

The President, in his budget message, urged Congress to “clarify the definition and use of savings and augmentation in light of our policy to push agencies to spend their budgets or else to lose it.”

“Given that this proposed budget will be valid for one year, it will be counter-intuitive to allow the declaration of savings and augmentation of deficient budget items only at the end of the year,” the President said.

“Thus, the proposed general provisions of this budget seek to allow the declaration of savings by the end of the first semester – a realistic time frame, as it gives enough time for the implementation of augmented programs and projects,” Aquino added.

In the same P2.606-trillion budget proposal for 2015, the President called on Congress to impose a “one-year validity of appropriations” that will no longer allow the use of budgets intended for the year to carry-over to the next year.

“This policy, we believe, encourages departments and agencies to utilize their allocated funds as early as possible, rather than to postpone the implementation of programs and projects to the following year,” the President said. “It also makes the accounting of the use of funds and the implementation of programs and projects more straightforward and transparent,” Aquino added.

But Ridon questioned the new provisions such as the “non-commencement,” “unforeseen modifications,” and “re-assessment: of program, activity or project (PAP) in the 2015 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

“In previous GAAs, there were no such things as ‘non-commencement’ or ‘unforeseen modifications.’ One strict requirement to determine savings is that the fund is still available after the final discontinuance or abandonment of the PAP. Under the new definition, DBM did away with the requirement of finality, thus expanding the president’s discretion over public funds and vastly clipping the congressional power of the purse,” Ridon said.

LEGALIZING DAP

Some opposition lawmakers however claimed that the administration has in effect moved to legalize the DAP through the redefinition of budgetary items in the 2015 budget proposal.

Ridon said the provisions on savings under the 2015 budget proposal has been “custom-fit to legitimize DAP and allow its implementation in the future despite the adverse ruling of the High Court.

NEW DEFINITION OF SAVINGS

Under the 2015 national budget bill, the executive branch proposed new definitions of savings as “portions or balances of any programmed appropriations” that have not been released or obligated as result of “discontinuance or abandonment of the program, activity or project (PAP) for justifiable causes, at a time during the validity of the appropriations.

Savings may also be declared for the funds of projects that have not started within the first semester of 2015 unless the implementing agency can show the project can still be implemented within the year.

The executive can also declare as savings if there is “decreased cost resulting in improved efficiency” in the implementation or completion of projects.

“Savings may likewise refer to available balances of appropriations arising from unused compensation and related costs pertaining to: unfilled, vacant, or abolished positions; non-entitlement to allowance and benefits; and leaves of absences without pay,” the budget proposal read.

In the use of savings, the executive branch said priority must be given to the augmentation of the amounts set aside for payment of compensation, year-end bonus and cash gift, retirement gratuity, terminal leave benefits, old-age pension of veterans, and other personnel benefits.

AUGMENTATION DEFINITION

In the same 2015 budget bill, augmentation is now defined as the act of filling up a deficiency in any existing program of an agency from savings in other items of said agency’s appropriations.

A deficiency in a project may result from unforeseen modifications or adjustments in the project and re-assessment in the use, prioritization and/or distribution of resources.

The administration’s 2015 budget proposal was submitted to Congress by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Wednesday afternoon. A public financial management reform bill will also be submitted soon for the approval of Congress.

Asked about the government’s goal to redefine the savings in the 2015 national budget, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. made clear that this was in compliance with the SC decision on DAP.

Coloma, however, gave a vague answer when asked if there will be a revival of the DAP next year given the planned new definition of savings.

“We are talking about a budgetary process – that is the big picture. We are conducting the budgetary process in a way that is responsive to the needs of the country and that is also responsive to the principles of accountability, transparency, and openness, which this administration espouses. That is the big picture. That is the frame within which all of these considerations are being put in place,” Coloma said in a Palace press briefing.

The President, in the same budget message, kept his defensive stance on DAP even as he assured he was not defying the High Court.

“While we respect the authority of the Supreme Court, we humbly believe that its decision on the DAP failed to consider all our legal bases; more so that it hinged on a rigid and inflexible conception of public finance,” Aquino said.

He said filing a motion for reconsideration on the DAP ruling was the “right thing to do” because “we must ensure that our hands are not tied in fulfilling our mandate to spend each peso with efficiency, speed and maximum impact.”

The President also urged Congress to approve the 2015 national budget, which he described as a “Budget for Inclusive and Sustained Development.”

Aquino pushed for the transformation of the relationship between the Executive and Congress “into one that is defined by greater public accountability.”

He affirmed that the government continues to aim for “greater public accountability” as he warned against “those benefit from the old system” would not easily stand down.

HOUSE BILL ON SAVINGS

Meanwhile, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone beat Malacañang to the draw by filing House Bill 4470 that will make clear the rules on savings and augmentation of funds that are provided for in the current and prior years’ GAA.

HB 4470 has similarities with the Malacañang congressional joint resolution proposal that would define savings as used in the national budget.

Evardone proposed that savings may arise before and after the implementation of a program, activity or project within the current year of appropriations.

“Furthermore, this bill clarifies Section 38, Chapter 5, Book VI of EO No. 292, the Administrative Code of the Philippines, such that whenever the President suspends or stops further expenditure of funds, as public interest requires, the funds allotted to agencies or departments outside of the Executive may be declared as savings by the respective heads of Departments or agencies, and used in accordance with this proposed measure. This, in effect, reinforces the fiscal autonomy of such Departments and agencies,” he added.

Savings declared as a result of a provision of the bill must be used within six months from the time it has arisen.  Failure to do so will result in the automatic reversion to the National treasury.

  • Gisingbayanko

    LET’S STICK TO EVIDENCE BASED DISCUSSIONS, ARGUMENTS, CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISMS TO AVOID NAME CALLING, HALF TRUTHS, MISINFORMATION, CHARACTER ASSASSINATION, EMOTIONAL, IRRATIONAL OUTBURSTS, MYOPIC, STUBBORN REFUSAL TO OPEN ONE’S MIND TO HARD EVIDENCE TO UNDERSTAND AND KNOW THE TRUTH!

    LIKE IT OR NOT, ECONOMIC STIMULUS SPENDING PACKAGE (BUDGET DEFICIT SPENDING EQUIVALENT UP TO 2% OF GNP), IS A PROVEN, TESTED TOOL THAT INTERNATIONAL CREDITORS LIKE THE WORLD BANK, IMF, ADB AND OTHERS, ENCOURAGE TO BE UTILIZED BY MANY COUNTRIES TO SUSTAIN THEIR ECONOMIC GROWTH DURING GLOBAL ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN, CONTRACTION AND AVERT GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN.

    THE PHILIPPINES (PH), WITH A ROBUST FINANCIAL POSITION AND EXCELLENT LOAN REPAYMENT TRACK RECORD, IS NO EXCEPTION; IT’S ALMOST A MANDATORY REQUIREMENT OF OUR INTERNATIONAL CREDITORS TO ENSURE CONSISTENT ATTAINMENT OF PH STELLAR ECONOMIC GROWTH. IF DAP IS NOT PALATABLE, IT’LL HAVE ANOTHER NAME AND IT’LL BE IMPLEMENTED. IT’S MOST UNFORTUNATE, THAT FILIPINOS WHO OPPOSE IT, HAS DEMONIZED IT; EVEN, WHEN THEY KNOW IT HAS CONTRIBUTED TO PH’S STELLAR ECONOMIC GROWTH FOR THE LAST 3 YEARS AND BENEFITED MILLIONS OF FILIPINOS.

    • juliet

      Don’t expect anything good from them. Pnoy critics are not demonized. They are the recruited online employees of demons to do a demolition job. Trabaho lang at walang personalan… ika nga!

      For our defense… if these demons are using the media to demonize the public, let us also use the same media to angelize the public.

      That’s what we can do. Nothing else. Don’t expect them to be converted into saints. Pera-pera lang ang labanan dito!

      Open ka ng PDI at MT… Concentrated sila doon kasi hindi nila pino-post comments ko doon! Pati reporters nila na demonized na rin. Idol nila si Lu–fer! Hari ng panlilinlang!

      Dito pakunti na sila. Mahina ang kita nila dito kasi supalpal sila palagi sa akin. Yari sila sa boss nila!

  • marinero

    zarat ang ilong ni ridong commienares. peste-list.

  • concerned

    as far as i know in budgeting is this. for 2015 the term income, that is the income that came from taxes, etc. for 1 year that is january to december 2015. as to the expenses that is budgeted also for one year january to december considering how can you spend income for the whole year in july considering some income will come on december. how can you claim you have savings when you do not have yet the income.

    • juliet

      Your question answers all the uncertainties and non sense comments rampant anywhere. They pretend to know everything but in fact knows nothing. I am not an accountant that’s why I am not going into details and digits… I am more into results! And that’s a fact… hindi tsismis. Always look who’s talking. With regards to the money matters, DBM and accountants are more credible… Not lawyers, reporters and madlang people. With regards to law… lawyers are more credible, not all in congress and senate because some of them are not lawyers. Please be guided!

    • GilArellano

      this is their own government not of the people,they could do everything they want with the cohorts of the legislative…this is tantamount to dictatorship…

      • juliet

        Don’t add to confusion… Supreme court said DAP is unconstitutional but proven a big boast to progress. Now the congress want to adopt the DAP system to continue progress… Are you not in favor of progress? Do you believe what Ridon says? Look who’s talking!!! Even the word militant clearly denotes anti-government, anti-progress. Sige kampihan mo pa ang mga kumunistang pag-iisip para mas malugmok pa tayo sa kahirapan.

        • GilArellano

          who doesn’t want progress?are you sure the DAP money was used to stimulate the economy?and I believe in what these oppositionist are doing…they are not anti progress like me,they care about the people not like you that you are blinded by your faith with this admin…

          • juliet

            Yes I am 101% sure DAP money helped to stimulate the economy. International analysts and World Bank President testified it. Even supreme court admitted it indeed helped the economy.

            So which is more credible to say and more credible to believe into????

            The Independent Body or those “oppositionist” and plunderers like Jinggoy Estrada, et al, militants and anti-Pnoy… Think of it very carefully. I believe according to the facts… and not to the tsismis of yours!