Government releases 96.5% of 2021 budget

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — With one quarter left in the year, the government has yet to release nearly P160 billion from the national budget to state agencies that need them to sustain their operations and programs.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) yesterday said it has issued 96.5 percent or P4.34 trillion, of the 2021 budget worth P4.5 trillion in the nine months to September.

During the same period last year, the government managed to distribute 99.3 percent or P4.07 trillion of its P4.1-trillion funding for state agencies and their programs and projects.

The DBM has issued 92.5 percent (P2.84 trillion) of the P3.07-trillion program under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2021. Broken down, about 87 percent at P2.46 trillion was given to departments, while the other 13 percent at P375.6 billion was used as special purpose funds.

On the other hand, the government released 86.6 percent (P1.23 trillion) of the P1.42-trillion allocation for automatic appropriations. To pay for the benefits of new hires, it has exceeded by P983.57 million its P56.24-billion allocation for retirement and life insurance premiums.

Further, the DBM has completed the issuance of P695.49 billion for internal revenue allotment; P71.66 billion for block grant; P480,000 for the pensions of former presidents and their widows; P31.06 billion for the special account in the general fund; and P14.5 billion for tax expenditures.

However, the government has released just 39.6 percent (P11.37 billion) of the P28.7 billion for net lending, and 67 percent (P356.15 billion) of the P531.54 billion for interest payments.

As of end-September, the DBM has also issued P263.55 billion in other releases, about half of which at P131.44 billion were listed as continuing appropriations from last year.

Broken down, roughly 70 percent (P91.86 billion) of the continuing appropriations were released to finance programs and projects under the second Bayanihan law. The remaining 30 percent at P39.57 billion was distributed to departments in compliance with the extension of the validity of the 2020 GAA.

Likewise, the government has deployed P100.42 billion for its unprogrammed appropriations or items that can only be executed through excess revenues or new borrowings. It has also issued P31.68 billion for other automatic appropriations like the military’s modernization program.

For 2022, the government has submitted to Congress a record spending plan worth P5.024 trillion, of which the education cluster will receive the largest share at P773.6 billion.

During a pandemic, health agencies will take just the fourth largest priority at P242 billion, behind the P686.1 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways and the P250.4 billion for the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

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