Santiago bats for inclusion of revenue sources in BESF-A A +A
Monday, October 21, 2013
SENATOR Miriam Defensor Santiago proposed Monday that all sources of national revenues, especially the funds from Malampaya, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, should be included in the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF) Report submitted by the President to Congress.
In Resolution 304, Santiago said that it is time to end corruption by putting all government revenues, regardless of source, whether regular taxes, incomes from gambling, royalties and others into the national treasury.
Santiago further said that pursuant to the budget process mandated in the Constitution, the President submits to Congress his BESF report, and National Expenditure Program or the President's budget every year.
The BESF report contains the sources of government revenues and their corresponding amounts, and how these funds shall be spent for the next fiscal year.
The funds coming from PCSO, Pagcor and the Malampaya Fund are used and disbursed outside the budget process.
"The allocation and use of public funds should be transparent and decided by elected representatives of the people," Santiago said.
The Malampaya fund, comprised of royalties collected by the National Government from the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power Project, is estimated to have amounted to a total of $4 billion (170 billion) since 2001, and is expected to earn a total of $10 billion after 20 years of the project's operation.
Santiago said that use of off budget funds should be decided through the budget; process, requiring congressional approval in recognition of the Constitutional provision, which says "No money shall be paid out of the Treasury, except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law"
The senator added that off budget funds have been subject to gross misuse and abuse. The Malampaya fund for example, she said, has been used for other purposes other than the intended energy related objectives.
Some P900 million from the Malampaya Fund was given to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) meant to rehabilitate farmers whose livelihoods were ravaged by the typhoons in 2009 allegedly ended up in the hands of the bogus non-government organizations of Janet Napoles.
Another P1.3 billion was used by the current Aquino administration to acquire a cutter from the US Coast Guard and for the transfer, dry docking and hull maintenance of the vessel
Another P4.95 million was given to the Department of National Defense to upgrade its capabilities for the security and protection of the Malampaya gas project.
Santiago's resolution proposes that after the approval of the 2014 General Appropriations Act and signed into law, the President shall submit a supplemental budget for the 2014 fiscal year to cover the planned expenditures corresponding to the off-budget sources of revenues.
The resolution is to be referred to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes since the annual budgets can be assimilated to a code that in effect compiles all the laws concerning off-budget funds.(Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)