EVEN with the prospect of having an almost P300-billion deficit in the current 2010 budget, the prospect of getting a healthier financial condition in 2011 somehow needs a sturdier optimism than our economic seers would probably allow themselves to have the luxury of.
The 2011 proposed budget amounts to P1.645 trillion, about 6.8 percent more than this year’s P1.541 trillion.
But a non-government organization, which took a critical look at the budget, accused the Aquino administration of backpedaling “on its promise of providing the basic social services, by setting aside P357.1 billion for interest payments” on the loans earlier contracted.
Ibon Foundation thus pointed out that even with the 6.8 percent increase, next year’s budget “contradicted the goal of addressing the gaps in social services for the poor.”
Incidentally, the proposed 2011 budget may carry P7.76-billion worth of infrastructure projects for Central Visayas, as endorsed by the Regional Development Council (RDC).
Most of these are for road construction, road widening or concreting, drainage systems, and construction of flyovers and bridges.
However, the endorsement by RDC’s infrastructure development committee must still get confirmation from local leaders.
The process calls for the district congressmen, governors, and town mayors to lobby for the project’s inclusion in the budget, something that makes the proposed projects difficult to realize.
Just the same, the Central Visayas-proposed infrastructure projects form part of the basic social and economic programs the Ibon Foundation is complaining about as no longer a priority in the perception of the Aquino government.
Thus, while the RDC has identified and determined the cost of desired infrastructure projects in the region, the assurance of implementation rests in the hands of the Department of Budget and Management, which really determines what gets or does not get actual fund allocation in the annual appropriations act.
If interest payments are getting a good slice of the 2011 budgetary pie, only P-Noy can change it.
Budget cuts, in fact, have been effected in almost all sectors of the national government, from agriculture and agrarian reform, to power and energy.
Even allocation for health has been decreased from the current P40 billion to just P38.6 billion.
Only the education budget got 12.9 percent, or P31.1 billion. And it is reasonable enough.