Government still has to release 14% of 2021 budget

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government has yet to release 14 percent of the 2021 national budget with five months remaining in the year, as it nears to face Congress to defend its proposal to increase the 2022 funding to more than P5 trillion.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) yesterday reported it has released 86 percent or P3.87 trillion of the P4.5-trillion program under the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) as of end-July.

Compared to last year, the government released 94 percent or P3.85 trillion of the P4.1-trillion national budget during the same period.

The bulk at over 90 percent of the budget was distributed to departments, while the rest of the allocation was used as special purpose funds.

Based on records, the government has depleted all of the funding for the P695.49 billion internal revenue allotment; P71.66 billion block grant; P31.06 billion special account in the general fund; P14.5 billion tax expenditures fund; and P480,000 pension for former presidents.

Further, the DBM has exceeded its issuance for the P56.24 billion retirement and life insurance premiums by P635.89 million due to additional requirements demanded by new hires.

On the contrary, just 25 percent or P132.88 billion of the P531.54 billion interest payments was released as of end-July. At a similar rate, the government has disbursed only P7.17 billion of the P28.7 billion net lending.

The DBM has also issued P219.96 billion in other releases. Continuing appropriations from last year accounted for more than half at P115.46 billion, where P91.86 billion was directed to fund some of the measures under Bayanihan 2.

The DBM has committed to submit the 2022 budget proposal worth P5.024 trillion to Congress prior to the deadline on Aug. 25, 30 days after the start of a regular session as per the Constitution.

The government is expected to face challenges in defending the national expenditure program on allegations from lawmakers that it is underspending in its efforts against the pandemic.


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