‘Earmarking’ to solve dilemma of P500-billion laws-A A +A
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
SENATOR Francis “Chiz” Escudero wants a closer coordination in Congress for the crafting of relevant laws as he revealed that P500-billion worth of laws remain dormant because of the absence of government funding.
Escudero said a solution to the problem of law creation and funding would be the earmarking of funds on laws coming out of the legislative mill.
He cited as example the assigning of funds raised from the sin tax amendment law or income coming from state corporations such as those raised from gaming operations of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to particular expenses.
For instance, under Pagcor’s charter, five percent of the state gaming firm’s income is earmarked for the Philippine Sports Commission.
Earmarking would be a good way of ensuring that laws serve the purpose for which these were created since the funding does not need to pass through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) or the need for funds to first go to the national treasury before these are released to a particular undertaking.
Escudero said that among these unfunded laws is one which seeks to improve the welfare of persons with disabilities (PWD).
“The PWD law has a worthy cause but it is effectively not implemented even among government offices because it was not funded,” he said.
The situation is similar to asking which comes first, the chicken or the egg, Escudero said, and noted that it is the responsibility of Congress to craft laws but it is the Executive’s task to allocate the budget to implement laws.
“If Congress becomes remiss on the enactment of laws, the government will not have any authorization for programs it espouses but on the contrary, the enactment of a law becomes meaningless if there is no budget for it,” Escudero said.
He said that in the current 15th Congress, some 70 bills were enacted, creating about 300 courts which did not have funding.
“If Congress did not pass the bills, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will not have authority to allocate funding for the new courts in the budget, so it’s a cat and mouse game,” Escudero said.
Ensuring that laws and funding match is a joint responsibility of government, meaning the Congress and the executive branch itself, he added.
“Under PD 1177, the President has powers over the budget to decide which items to fund and which items not to fund. We do not have a provision in the Constitution which requires laws to be funded on a first-come, first-served basis,” Escudero said.
“Nobody should be lulled by the comfort of believing that simply because we amend the law and say that funding should be automatically appropriated, it will already be released by the DBM,” he added.
Escudero said that the only items that are automatically appropriated would be debt servicing and the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) under the Local Government Code and the budget for constitutional commissions. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)