^

Headlines

2016 budget loaded with pork, lump sums – watchdog

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016 recently signed by President Aquino is full of “pork” and lump sum appropriations, a corruption watchdog said.

Leonor Briones, lead convenor of Social Watch Philippines, said that while the National Expenditure Program (NEP) totals P3.002 trillion, more than P930 billion is in automatic appropriations, and P408 billion and P67.5 billion represent Special Purpose Funds and Unprogrammed Funds.

Just like the 2015 national budget, the 2016 General Appropriations Act “reinforces the redefinition of savings and authorizes the transfer of DAP-like funds already declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional,” she said.

“As in previous election years, small infrastructure projects were embedded in the 2016 budget and were specifically identified by legislators during the preparation phase of the budget which amount to huge sums worth of public works,” Briones said.

She said additional insertions were introduced by both chambers of Congress and the bicameral conference committee during budget deliberations.

Concrete examples are farm-to-market roads, which are identified with legislators who claim credit for them during election sorties, she said.

She said “revisions” and “budgetary adjustments” made by Congress include the P326-million increase for Farm-to-Market Road Projects under the Department of Agriculture, or P7.377 billion from P7.051 billion; P987.930-million increase for Assistance to Indigent Patients under the Department of Health-Office of the Secretary (P2.783 billion from P1.795 billion); and P2.54-billion increase for Government Internship Program and Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers Project under the Department of Labor and Employment-Office of the Secretary (P3.267 billion from P727.3 billion).

The other adjustments are the P403-million increase for Training for Work Scholarship Program under the DOLE-Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (P2.206 billion from P2.203 billion); P1.248 billion-increase for Local Infrastructure Program under Department of Public Works and Highways-Office of the Secretary (P19.813 billion from P18.566 billion); P5.382-billion increase for Protective Services Program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Office of Secretary (P6.698 billion from P1.315 billion); P144-million increase for Tulong Dunong Program under the Commission on Higher Education (P1.130 billion from P986.231 million); and P662.538-million increase for Financial Assistance to LGUs under Local Government Support Fund in the Allocation to Local Government Units (P862.538 million from P200 million).

She said Social Watch earlier estimated that around P33.2 billion went to pork-like funds distributed across five agencies, adding that estimates from other groups are more or less similar to what the watchdog has arrived at.

“Transparency is the hallmark of accountable budgeting. The practice now is for legislators to send instructions to agencies just by text or telephone calls,” she said. 

“This is true for health assistance, employment and cash dole-outs. This trend further muddles the flow of information to the public, especially since there is no paper trail,” Briones said.

She said Social Watch is calling for more details on the 27 amendments from the bicameral committee, which are subject to “conditional implementation.”

“The Constitution does not provide for conditional implementation. The proposed General Appropriations Act can either be approved in full or its particular line items be vetoed by the President,” Briones said.

“We are reiterating our observation that the 2016 budget will benefit the political objectives of the present administration as well as the incoming officials,” she said. – With Jess Diaz, Rhodina Villanueva

 

 

ACIRC ATING DISADVANTAGED WORKERS PROJECT BILLION BRIONES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH-OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT-OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT INCREASE MILLION SOCIAL WATCH
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with