Senate panel okays President's Special Purpose Fund with conditions-A A +A
Friday, October 25, 2013
(UPDATED) Senator Francis Escudero, chairperson of the Senate committee on finance, endorsed Thursday to the plenary the President's Special Purpose Fund (SPF) subject to the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) submission of certain documents and committee amendments.
The more than P600 billion of lump-sum items for 2014 include the following: allocation to local government units worth P361.25 billion; pension and gratuity fund, P120.496 billion; miscellaneous and personnel benefits fund, P80.71 billion; priority development assistance fund (PDAF), P25.24 billion; calamity fund, P7.5 billion; international commitments fund, P4.82 billion; E-Government Fund, P2.48 billion; Department of Education (DepEd) school building program, P1 billion; contingency fund, P1 billion; and feasibility studies fund, P400 million.
The committee also passed the executive department's allocations for unprogrammed funds at P139.9 billion. These include the budgetary support to government owned and controlled corporations, support to foreign-assisted projects, general fund adjustments, support to infrastructure projects and social programs, the Armed Forces modernization program, debt management, risk management and the People’s Survival Fund.
Escudero said that the required documents consist mainly of specific items where each department budget allocation would be spent.
He added that the thrust of the budget review by his committee is to minimize the lump-sum funds or the so-called "presidential pork barrel" and to itemize as much as possible and practicable.
Escudero said that whatever remaining lump-sum funds will be subject to special provision on release, with reportorial requirements for transparency so that it will have the quality of a line item.
The list of expenditures can be submitted at a later date and will be considered as forming part of the budget and as line item expenditures of the budget.
The contingency fund is a lump-sum, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said, where the government charges the travel expenses of the President.
Escudero said that the travel fund should just be allocated to the budget of the Office of the President instead of putting it in the contingency fund.
One reporting requirement Escudero wanted covers the executive branch’s use of savings such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program.
Escudero said that his committee will require any and all utilization of savings to be reported to the Senate committee on finance and the committee on appropriations of the House of Representatives.
All special allotment release orders and notices of cash allocations covering fund realignments will be submitted to the Commission on Audit as a requirement.
Senator Sergio Osmena III, vice-chairman of the finance committee, said that the thrust is to remove the discretionary power over the lump-sum fund as much as possible to remove the opportunities for abuse and misuse. This applies to the presidential pork barrel and to the pork barrel of the legislators, he said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)