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House subcommittee begins investigating government departments’ budget operations.

The Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives formally started its series of oversight inquiries into the national government agencies’ budgetary performance on Thursday.

The budget oversight hearing for the Department of Health (DOH) was presided over by Estella Quimbo, senior vice chair of the panel, to begin the inquiries that would ensure the budget under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) is properly “utilized and disbursed timely, effectively, and efficiently.”

The national government’s departments, agencies, and businesses that are supported under the FY 2022 GAA and for the first quarter of FY 2023 GAA will be the subject of a series of oversight meetings, according to Quimbo.

As stated in Section 29 of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, Rep. Elizaldy Co, chair of the Appropriations Committee, is dedicated to vigorously pursuing the monitoring and compliance by agencies with the requirements and/or conditions in the utilization of public funds.

She stated, “Under the authority of the Committee on allocations, we are accountable for ensuring that the allocations under the GAA are utilized and dispensed immediately, effectively, and efficiently in line with the intent of Congress. Additionally, to recommend whether or not these initiatives should be carried out, scaled back, or abandoned in the budget plan for the following fiscal year that Congress must approve.

Rep. Quimbo of Marikina’s 2nd District declared that the panel must refrain from interfering with any of the various post-enactment stages of budget execution, including but not limited to project identification or modification, fund releases, and other activities that go beyond its congressional oversight responsibilities, as defined by applicable laws or case law.

The DOH is dealing with the following fund use issues, according to the Commission on Audit’s compliance audit for Fiscal Year 2022:

deficiencies in the distribution and use of Covid-19-related items, deficiencies in the payment of Covid-19 benefits and allowances, deficiencies and delays in the implementation of the health facilities enhancement program (HFEP), and deficiencies in the procurement process and timelines.

Quimbo urged the panelists to focus their inquiries and questions on issues related to the compliance audit.

She also requested discussion on the panel’s financial accountability reports and physical reports of operations for the DOH’s fiscal year 2022 and as of March 2023, budget uses in comparison to targets and performance for the budget years 2022 and 2023, and the status of the HFEP’s implementation as of the fiscal year 2022 and the first quarter of the fiscal year 2023.

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