Oliver Bugarin 5 0 0 7 min to read

There are no anomalies with the 2023 budget’s unprogrammed funds: DBM

The planned PHPP5.268 trillion national budget for 2023 includes PHP588.1 billion in unprogrammed cash. According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), there are no abnormalities in this amount.

Amenah Pangandaman, the budget secretary, said in a press conference that the unprogrammed monies were “really itemized” and could be utilized in “emergencies.”

“The projects included [in the unprogrammed appropriations] are those we do not expect to be implemented, just like those projects that we had at the height of the pandemic,” Pangandaman said. “Ang mga proyekto po na nilalagay natin dito, ito po ‘yung mga proyektong hindi pa po natin alam ang mangyayari, katulad po

This came after certain members demanded an explanation from the DBM over PHP588.1 billion in unprogrammed appropriations included in the national budget proposal for 2023.

Inappropriations on standby

The unprogrammed funds are “standby appropriations,” according to the DBM, who stated in a separate statement that they will be used for “some unexpected expenses; additional support for infrastructure projects and social programs; support to FAPs (foreign-assisted projects), [and other programs like] last mile schools program, procurement of vaccines, and risk-management program.”

“The Department of Budget and Management stands firm on its position that there were no irregularities in the distribution of unprogrammed funds under the [proposed] National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2023, as it is prepared to defend the proposed budget with the beginning of the marathon of budget deliberations,” it said.

A breakdown of the planned unprogrammed appropriations under the anticipated 2023 NEP was also supplied by Pangandaman and her office.

Out of the PHP588.1 billion, about PHP149.6 billion will be utilized to fund social programs and infrastructure projects, including the PHP22 billion vaccine purchase.

The Modernization Program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines will receive about PHP5 billion; budgetary support for government-owned or -controlled corporations will receive PHP20.6 billion; the Risk Management Program will receive PHP1 billion; and the Land Transportation Office’s Information Technology Service will receive PHP2 billion in arrears payments.

Amounting to around PHP210.5 million, the unprogrammed appropriations will also be used to reimburse the service development charge for the right to develop the Nampeidai Property in Tokyo, Japan.

The DBM stated that approximately PHP380 billion would also be set aside to support projects with foreign assistance, of which PHP378.2 billion will be allocated to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the remaining PHP2.2 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

According to the DBM, some PHP10 billion of the unprogrammed funds will be used for the equity infusion of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in accordance with Republic Account 11211, PHP18.9 billion for public health emergency benefits, and allowances for health and non-healthcare workers, and PHP14 million for shares of prior-year local government units (LGUs).

“The [unprogrammed appropriation] was created over forty years ago and has been approved by succeeding administrations. It is a type of standby appropriation, meaning that unprogrammed appropriation will be triggered if at any time surplus revenues are not produced, and an item of appropriations is discovered to be insufficient or even nonexistent, “DBM stated.

Only PHP200-B is regarded as being unprogrammed.

Since PHP378.2 billion of the total unprogrammed appropriations (AUs) will be allocated for DOTr’s loan proceeds obligations, the DBM stated that just PHP200 billion, or 4% of the PHP588.1 billion, will be “considered unprogrammed.”

As a result, the DBM argues that the PHP200 billion unprogrammed appropriation, rather than the PHP378.2 billion unprogrammed appropriation corresponding to loan profits from DOTr, should be used in the determination of whether the UA exceeded the optimal percentage against the national budget.

The DBM continued, “Therefore, should this be eliminated, just about PHP200 billion, or 4 percent, is regarded unprogrammed, and it will only be activated for release upon the generation of extra income.

Due to the DOTr’s “history of low absorptive ability insofar as loan proceeds is concerned,” the DBM noted, the loan proceeds were shifted to the unprogrammed appropriation.

The benefit of unauthorized appropriations

According to the DBM, it would be wise to fund particular initiatives and projects under the unprogrammed appropriations, and it would be “willing to provide details and open to Congress” to do so.

It provided the assurance while acknowledging that there had been times in the past when the proposed budget lacked unprogrammed appropriation.

“This results from the reasoning that there shouldn’t be an unprogrammed appropriation when the budget is actually increasing. The unprogrammed appropriation is a resource cover that is accessible, but in our country where we experience tragedies and events that we do not predict but which force us to offer services to our citizens, it will result in increased funding for the national government “DBM stated.

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