Press Release
August 27, 2013

Recto wants P96 B worth of 2014 projects itemized

The Senate has set the ball rolling for an itemized national budget with the demand of one leader that large lump sums in next year's proposed P2.26 trillion outlay be detailed.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has identified an "initial 10 items" worth P96 billion in the 2014 proposed expenditures which he said must be subjected to "line item" budgeting, "meaning the cost and the location of every project are spelled out."

"If we are looking for a template that can be followed in breaking down huge but vague allocations, then maybe we can start by specifying where classrooms, health centers, farm- to-market roads will be built," he said.

Recto said lump sum allocations for feasibility projects for public works "which run into billions," the P2.5 billion "E-Government Fund", "right-of way" payments must also be itemized.

He said the exercise will instruct Congress on how "to craft a what-you-see-is-what-you-get budget."

"If PDAF will be scrapped and rechanneled to social services then we must have a format on how to do it in the most transparent manner possible," Recto said.

He explained that under current budgeting practice, many multi-billion-peso expenditures are authorized in the budget "through a few sentences, in language so economical that you can fit them in one Tweet."

Recto said he does not see any problem in the submission of the details of the lump sums "as the budget was supposedly built from scratch or what is called as zero-based budgeting."

"Zero-based budgeting calls for piece-by-piece assembly of the budget. The assumption is that line-items are pieced together. If this is the case, we are just asking the agencies to submit to us the basis, the bill of particulars, they used in coming up with their budget request," he said.

To jumpstart the crafting of a line-item budget, Recto said he will ask concerned agencies to supply the implementation details of the following :

  • Department of Agriculture's P12 billion Farm-to-Market Road Fund

  • Department of Education's P37.7 billion Classroom Construction, Repair, Replacement Fund

  • Department of Public Works and Highway's P2.5 billion Right-of-Way Fund

  • Department of Public Works and Highway's P11.3 billion request for Various Infrastructure Including Local Projects

  • Department of Public Works and Highways' P1.9 billion Feasibility Studies, Engineering Designs Fund

  • Department of Social Welfare and Development's P2.5 billion request for Sustainable Livelihood Programs

  • Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program in various agencies totaling P7.2 billion

  • Department of Health's P13.3 billion Health Facilities Enhancement Program

  • Department of Agriculture's P5.1 billion Irrigation Fund

  • E-Government Fund, P2.5 billion

Recto said the P2.4 billion E-Commerce Fund needs to be fleshed out because its "sparse authorization language" merely states that it will be for "information technology projects."

As to the DepEd's request for classrooms, Recto said "there will be no harm in listing where the 43,183 classrooms will be built or repaired so children studying in crowded rooms will be assured that relief is on the way and so that people on the ground can monitor their construction."

In the case of the DPWH's P11.3 billion request for various infrastructure, Recto said Congress will be remiss in its duties "if this will be approved sans specifics."

The Right-of-Way allotment must also be fleshed out complete with names of payees, Recto added, so that the public will know the cost of private lots expropriated. "The R-O-W fund at P2.5 billion is 10 percent of the PDAF, and we can't have a situation wherein the latter is itemized but the former is a blank check."

On the Health department's P13.3 billion request for "health facilities' enhancement," Recto said it is but fair to ask a listing of the "962 barangay health stations, 1,265 rural health units, 561 local government hospitals and 69 DoH-run hospitals that will benefit from this fund."

Noting that the Department of Agriculture has vowed to build 1,500 kilometers of farm roads out of the P12.5 billion it is asking, Recto said "it is incumbent upon the DA to list the barangays where these will be built and the length and cost of each."

Recto said the proposed P7.2 billion PAMANA program which is scattered over 10 agencies lacks details "and it would serve the purposes of transparency if details will be supplied."

He said there is no reason why agencies can't come up with details "because if the DSWD can compile a registry of 21.5 million individual beneficiaries of CCT, complete with address, and even the body weight of hundreds of thousands of children, then there is no reason why an agency like the DA can't tell us where the irrigation canals will be built."

Recto said the details need not be incorporated into the General Appropriations Act but it can be used as an annex or a reference material which shall be accessible to the public.

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