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DOF: We never denied underspending Bayanihan funds

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DOF: We never denied underspending Bayanihan funds
During a meeting with key officials last Saturday, President Duterte asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to react to the claim of Senators Panfilo Lacson and Vicente Sotto III that there was underspending in the Bayanihan funds. Bayanihan is a law that allocated funds for the government’s pandemic response.
Geremy Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines — Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government has not denied that that funds under the “Bayanihan 2” stimulus package are unspent, stressing the undeployed money only represented 1% of the total pandemic funds released.

“We never denied the underspending but we put the amount in perspective: P6 billion (unspent fund) is 1% of total releases for COVID-19 response,” Dominguez said in a Viber message on Monday.

During a meeting with key officials last Saturday, President Duterte asked Dominguez to react to the claim of Sens. Panfilo Lacson and Vicente Sotto III that there was underspending in the Bayanihan funds. Bayanihan is a law that allocated funds for the government’s pandemic response.

Citing data from the budget department, Dominguez told Duterte that the government has already released P660 billion.

“What they are referring to as ‘underspending’ is P6 billion or one percent of the total,” the finance chief said during the meeting with Duterte,

“The Department of Budget (and Management) and ourselves are going to each department to see where the P6 billion is. But Mr. President, this is a 1% problem... In relation to what we have released of 660 billion, this is 1%, okay, and we are sure that it will be released,” he added.

Dominguez said economic managers are asking each department “to really spend the money.”

Duterte then chided Congress for supposedly not listening to Dominguez when he was explaining how state funds are used.

Some groups have criticized the government for underspending the Bayanihan 2 funds, saying the money could have been used to help more people and businesses that were hit by the pandemic.

CARLOS DOMINGUEZ III NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PHILIPPINE ECONOMY
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