AFTER government underspending slowed down the country’s economy in the first quarter of 2015, Senator Francis Escudero vowed Thursday to exercise stricter scrutiny of the 2016 national budget.

Escudero said he would ask the Department of Budget and Management to explain how the government will eliminate the problem of underspending largely due to the low absorptive capacity of state agencies.

The country's economy in the first three months of 2015 slowed to a three-year low of 5.2 percent.

“The money is there but is not spend because of slow and low absorptive capacity of the government and that’s the reason why there is an underspending,” Escudero, chairman of Senate finance committee, said.

“One thing that we will do in the 2016 budget is that we will not give it to them unless there is a list of where it will be used,” he added.

Escudero said it was not good for the government to underspend because it deprives citizens of essential public goods and services they rightly deserve like improved education, better healthcare, and more roads and bridges.

To ensure efficiency and effectiveness of public spending, the senator said he demanded safeguards from the Government Procurement and Policy Board, which is responsible for overseeing the government’s procurement system.

He said the board must do something to address bidding controversies such as in the procurement of helicopters, armored personnel carrier and force protector gear by the Department of National Defense. (Sunnex)