UP prof hits 2014 nat’l budget as problematic
Juancho R. Gallarde (The Freeman) - March 22, 2014 - 12:00am

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — Professor Emeritus Leonor Magtolis Briones, of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance and lead convener of Social Watch Philippines, described the 2014 national budget as “systematically problematic.”

Briones, also the former national treasurer and now trustees board chair of Silliman University, was in this city for a series of lecture on the national budget and its implications.

“Studying the budget and expenditures of government is like opening a box within a box, within a box, within a box. People think the national budget is one huge, huge box. Actually it is a series of smaller boxes. The people don’t see all of these boxes. Regulation and accountability vary from one box to another,” she told the participants of the lecture held at the Silliman University.

Briones considered the Priority Development Assistance Fund as one bukol (lump or swelling) and the mother of all bukols is the Special Purpose Fund (SPF) of the president, which amounted to a staggering P282.5 billion or 21 percent of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2014. This money is under the total control of the president, she said.

Briones also said the SPF is of special interest to civil societies because it is where the pork is hidden like the P46.2 billion budgetary support to government owned and controlled corporations to include NFA, NEA, NIA, SSS.

Another is the allocation to local government units, totaling P19.5 billion, on top of the internal revenue allotment (IRA), P13 billion for the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, P20 billion for rehab and rehabilitation program, P1 billion contingency fund and P1 billion for DepEd’s school building program.

Everybody should show concern about where the budget goes, how it is being spent, because everybody pay taxes, not only the income tax earners but all the citizens through the 12-percent value added tax imposed  by government on food items, transportation and services, among others, said Briones.

On PDAF, Briones said this was merely migrated to five executive departments: DOH with P3.19 billion for aid to indigent patients, confined or out-patient, in government hospitals; DSWD with P4.09 billion for protective services for individuals and families in specially difficult circumstances; CHED with P4.096 billion for  assistance, incentives, scholarships and grants; DOLE with P2.048 billion for trainings, livelihood, enterprise development and other capacity building programs for students, youths, and disabled and rural workers.

TESDA regional and provincial offices, including the DPWH with P7.396 billion for road networks, flood management services, infrastructure construction and maintenance and other projects, said Briones.

Briones said the public should be aware about where the automatic appropriations go, because this money does not undergo Congress review. Under the GAA of 2014, automatic appropriations totals P796.029 billion, of which P352.65 billion goes to interest payments for debt servicing and P341.54 for IRA of LGUs.

Surprisingly, another P21.11 billion is allotted as special accounts in the general fund, said Briones as she called on taxpayers to be vigilant in tracking the P139 billion un-programmed funds of the government and the P40 billion off-budget Items in direct remittances from PAGCOR, PCSO and road users tax, among others. (FREEMAN)

BILLION BRIONES GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT NATIONAL COLLEGE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND GOVERNANCE NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION MANAGEMENT COUNCIL PRIORITY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FUND PROFESSOR EMERITUS LEONOR MAGTOLIS BRIONES SILLIMAN UNIVERSITY SOCIAL WATCH PHILIPPINES SPECIAL PURPOSE FUND
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