THE youth of today are given the leeway of disbursing public funds without parental guidance.
Last January, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Budget Management and National Youth Commission issued a Joint Memorandum Circular that prescribes the guidelines on the appropriation and release of the SK Fund, provides for the planning and budgeting process, and emphasizes the associated posting requirements to enhance transparency and accountability.
The JMC reiterates the financial independence of the Sangunniang Kabataan (SK) in spending its 10-percent fund as provided under Republic Act No. 10742 also known as the SK Reform Act of 2015. This means that it shall be automatically released by the barangay to the SK, and shall not be subject to any lien or holdback that may be imposed by the barangay.
With this, there is a need to have a separate account for the fund with the SK Chairperson and SK Treasurer as official signatories. Barangay Officials shall be penalized if they fail to release any amount of the SK fund.
Since there is a separate budget for SK, there shall be also a separate plan from that of the barangay known as the Comprehensive Barangay Youth Development Plan. The plan will be the basis for the annual youth investment plan which contains the specific programs, projects and activities of the sector. The plan shall observe the policies and guidelines issued by NYC. It shall cover activities on the areas of health, education, economic empowerment, social inclusion and equity, peace building and security, governance, active citizenship and global mobility.
Before the implementation of RA No. 10742, activities of the SK go through with the regular procurement process. The SK chairperson proposes the activity then the barangay treasurer and Committee on Finance chairperson give certification on the availability of funds. After which, the Punong Barangay provides the approval of the project. Then it follows the other processes with the interventions of barangay officials and concerned city/municipal offices.
With the release of the new circular, the responsibility and accountability in the utilization and disbursement of SK funds shall rest upon the SK officials concerned. No more accountability is attached to Barangay officials as compared to the latter practice.
The SK Reform Act of 2015 is a result of rigorous consultations from the different sectors including the young. As a qualified youth, I personally agree with most of the Act’s provisions particularly on the removal of the influence of barangay officials in the use of the SK fund. This only mean that the government has given its trust to the youth in managing its own budget more so, that most of the SK Chairpersons are on their twenties.
However, the issuance of the joint circular delays or even impedes the implementation of SK programs due to the absence of separate auditing guidelines intended for the expenditure of the 2018 and 2019 SK funds.
Another vague area is the source of salary/honorarium of SK Treasurer and SK Secretary since the circular mentioned that the secretary and treasurer have roles in the SK structure. This scenario now creates another problem because personnel service is not allowed in the SK fund utilization. There is no identified source on where to get the compensation of the additional appointed officials.
As of the moment, only SK budget for fiscal years 2017 and below programmed by the Youth Task Force are the funds being spent.
The SK plans will remain a dream unless all systems are put in place.