Recto: No details of completed projects in proposed budget

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Sunday, August 17, 2014


THERE is no document in the proposed budget that shows if indeed the itemized projects in the past year have been completed, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said Sunday.

Recto said that for all the voluminous budget documents that the Palace is sending “by the truckloads” to Congress every year, “they lack one important document: and that is a report if the projects and programs funded by last year’s budget have been implemented.”

“My question is: If you were able to carefully itemize the projects when you were asking for money, then what prevents you now that you have come back to ask for more from giving us an itemized report of how the money was spent?” Recto said.

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Recto said what could be included among the traditional budget documents sent to Congress is a “new budget accountability form” showing if a project, activity or program authorized in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) had indeed been implemented.

He is proposing the use of the same GAA format in reporting that the projects funded for the year have indeed been implemented.

“Ang gusto natin ay parang resibo ng paggasta," he said.

Explaining it further, Recto said the idea is for the executive to return to us the same GAA but this time it will be in annotated form.

Every funding item in the GAA of the previous year will carry a corresponding note indicating when it was completed and the amount spent for its completion.

“If the GAA authorizes the recruitment of, say, 10,000 new policemen and 50,000 new teachers, then what we want is for the executive to superimpose in that GAA a note stating the actual number of policemen and teachers hired,” Recto added.

“Sa post-implementation, GAA format pa rin ang gagamitin, pero modified na, kasi nakasaad na doon kung ang proyektong ito ay naimplement nga ba o hindi,” he added.

Recto noted that at present, it is hard for Congress or for its constituents to check if a specific project authorized in the GAA has indeed been implemented or has been realigned or its funds impounded.

The reason for this is that the familiar budgeting format used during “budget authorization” and “budget execution” ceased to be used during the “budget accountability” phase, Recto said.

The first phase is “budget preparation” when details of next year’s spending are hammered out in the executive and collated in the National Expenditure Program (NEP).

The NEP later evolves into the general appropriations bill which in turn becomes the General Appropriations Act.

“The problem is that what should have been a seamless progression of the budgeting process is interrupted in the accountability phase because there is no feedback as to the status of the projects, programs and activities sought to be funded,” he said.

“Kung meron man, mahirap ma-flesh out. Pero kung GAA pa rin ang format mas madali,” he said.

Recto said the Commission on Audit need not make the status report since the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), whose "recent radical reforms" allow it to keep tab of each and every project, can provide it.

Malacañang proposed a P2.606-trillion national budget to Congress for 2015. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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