DBM gives details of p588-B ‘grey area’

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has finally shed light on the alleged P588-billion “grey area” in the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), which was flagged in Congress.

During a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman gave a detailed breakdown of the Unprogrammed Appropriations (UA).

This after Deputy Speaker Ralph G. Recto called on Malacañang to disclose the details of
the UA, particularly the P380-billion component,which will be used to support Foreign-Assisted Projects (FAP).

UA breakdown

In her presentation, Pangandaman said of the FAP, P2.2 billion will be for initiatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), while P378.2 billion will be for “loan proceeds requirements” of the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

In a statement, DBM said, “all loan proceeds under the DOTr were transferred to the unprogrammed appropriation, due to their history of low absorptive capacity insofar as loan proceeds are concerned.”

DBM defines FAP as government projects, which are wholly or partly financed by foreign loans and/or foreign grants.

Also making up a large portion of the flagged UA is the P149.6 billion which will be used for Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs.

Pangandaman said the unprogrammed funds will also be allocated for the following purposes: the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program (P5 billion); Budgetary Support to Government-Owned and/or -Controlled Corporations (P20.6 billion); Risk Management Program (P1 billion); Payment of Arrears of Land Transportation Office-Information Technology Service (P2 billion); Refund of the Service Development Fee for the Right to Develop the Nampeidai Property in Tokyo, Japan (P210.5 million); and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Equity Infusion pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 11211 (P10 billion); Public Health Emergency Benefits and Allowances for Health and Non-Health Care Workers (P18.9 billion).                     DBM said it is ready to defend the flagged UA, which will only be implemented once the additional funds for it become available, before Congress.

“I think the unprogrammed funds are actually itemized for transparency of everyone,” Pangandaman said.

Nuke free

In another development, DBM said its proposed P5.26-trillion national budget next year still has no provision for the proposed rehabilitation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

“We have no budget for that,” Pangandaman said.

Talks of the possible operation of the unused and mothballed power plant surfaced as the government is now considering tapping nuclear energy to address the growing need for additional power.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. earlier said his administration will study the inclusion of nuclear power in the country’s energy mix.

Up to lawmakers

When asked about her position on the proposal to abolish the Procurement Service of DBM (PS-DBM), Pangandaman said she will defer to Congress on the matter.

She also reiterated her position to lawmakers to give the present administration under the leadership of Dennis S. Santiago of PS-DBM a chance to prove itself.

“Again, our procurement system is already clean and in order, and in fact, Atty. Dennis Santiago already made the issuance that will concentrate on the major mandate of PS-DBM, which is to procure non-common use supplies,” Pangandaman said.

To further boost the credibility of PS-DBM, Pangandaman said it will use e-procurement and e-shopping systems adopted by the national government.

The PS-DBM had been the subject of Commission on Audit (COA) reports on questioned pandemic supply purchases, for which the Department of Health turned over to it P42 billion of its funds; and the procurement of allegedly overpriced laptops for the Department of Education.

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