ABAD DEFENDS BUDGET,PNOY
By: Bingo P. Dejaresco III
(Makati)- Embattled Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad defended the new P2.6-Trillion 2015 National Budget as “reform-based” and lauded what he called a “disruptive president” in President Benigno Aquino III.
Abad said the 2015 budget, unprecedented in magnitude, is based on zero -sum budgeting (not just based on last year’s figures), devoid largely of “lump-sum” allocations (source of arbitrary usage) and has been approved on time (unlike GMA’s era).
He also said that the huge national budget was erected without the necessity of new taxes and “the deficit” as a % of GDP was going down, signifying lesser reliance on debt to finance growth. Abad made the presentation even as he spent majority of his time in defending the controversial DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program).
” Disruptive” President Aquino
The Aquino government was described as the “darling” of foreign sovereign “raters” mainly on the character of a disruptive, corruption-averse president in Noynoy. In his road to reforms, President Aquino had gone against popular drift with his championing of the RH Bill, against entrenched economic interests in the “Sin Tax” and fought the smugglers tooth and nail by reforming the Bureau of Customs.
Aquino is known for having caused a Chief Justice (Corona) to be impeached, a reluctant Ombudsman (Gutierrez) to resign, having jailed a Comelec Commissioner (Abalos) and a former president of the country (GMA) alongside now three senators (Revilla, Estrda and Enrile) and some military officers (Garcia, Razon etc). It is considered a major score for reforms.
The budget secretary explained that as a result of these reforms, Aquino had grown the economy’s GDP from 3.7% (2011) to 6.8% (2012) and 7.2% (2013), the second best in Asia , next to colossus China. As a result, the three rating agencies of Fitch, Standard and Poor and Moody’s has baptized the Philippines as “investment grade”, a fancy dream just a few years ago.
Other Budgetary Reforms
In several past SONAs, the environment barely merited a paragraph in the president;s speech. But in the 2015 Budget Framework, “Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction” is now one of the four main strategic directions of the administration.
Provinces have also be classified according to their basic needs or risks where Bohol was colored only as ” high disaster risk” (mainly to the rehab needs after the earthquake) while neighbors Leyte and Samar were classified as both ” high poverty incidence and high disaster risk areas”. Cebu was surprisingly “high poverty magnitude”( probably due to dense population) while Negros Occidental was dubbed “high Poverty magnitude”, as well.
The former representative from Batanes also said that very soon, the budget will be released on a check-less basis (80%) while the GAA will be considered “released” by beginning of the year to hasten government spending.. One route in doing this was to pre-bid projects even before the presentation of the GAA (Budget) book for the following year.
The “Performance Informed Budgeting” is a reform tool to analyze the positive impact of certain budget allocations on the welfare of people.
The government proudly announced it was doing a “Bottoms Up Budgeting” (BUB), meaning planning for the budget was participated in starting from the barangay level upwards. A check with the figures showed, however, this (BUB) was only a negligible part of the compared to the totality of the enormous P2.6 trillion budget.
PRIORITIES AND ANTI GRAFT BUDGETS
For the 2014 budget, government’s belief in the importance of eduction resulted in the the DepEd as securing the highest budget allocation of P309-B. followed by infrastructure spending by the DPWH with P219-B budget.
The other members of the top ten budgeted sectors are: DILG (P136-B), Defense (P123-B) ,mainly for external defense, Department of Health (P91-B), DSWD (P83-B), Agriculture (P80-B), DOTC (P47-B), DENR (P24-B) and DAR ( P 20-B).
In order to arm the government’s efforts of ” Matuwid na Daan”, DILG was funded P 2.1-B to enhance good housekeeping and audit performance of LGUs. P574-M was allotted to pursue cases in the Ombudsman as filed by the Tanodbayan and P290-M additional allocation to the Sandiganbayan to expedite the graft cases. Two anti graft bodies have increased budgets,namely COA (P4.7 B) and the NBI (P755-M) compared to the past of only P 500-M, according to a report circulated by the Department of Budget and Management.
Sec. Abad concluded his presentation in a call for public support for the efforts of government to straighten the processes in government particularly in the allocation and expenditure of the National Budget.
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