Press Release
November 11, 2020

Drilon urges Congress: It's time to address bloated bureaucracy, pass rightsizing measure

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon backed Senate President Vicente Sotto III's position that Congress must prioritize first the rightsizing of the bureaucracy before the creation of new departments that will further bloat the bureaucracy.

Drilon raised the issue on the effects of a bloated bureaucracy during the Senate's deliberation on the proposed P4.5-trillion nation budget Wednesday.

"We note that because of the size of the bureaucracy, the personnel service (PS) is getting more funds than the capital outlay, which funds infrastructure. The bureaucracy is getting bloated so that the allocation for PS is getting bigger and bigger to the prejudice of more productive spending in infrastructure, transportation, connectivity programs, etc.," Drilon pointed out.

Drilon said a bloated bureaucracy will prejudice and limit the government's ability to provide capital outlay for the needed infrastructure to move the economy forward.

"This is where we must watch out because in our chamber, there are eight bills to create eight departments, so you can imagine again the bias for PS," he said.

These include the Department of Overseas Filipinos, Department of Disaster Resilience, Department of Water Resources, National Disease Prevention Management Authority/ COVID Center within DOH, Boracay Island Development Authority Act, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic resources, Department of Sports Act, and Department of Culture.

"There are 8 bills in the Senate calling for the creation of new departments and this will continue to bloat our PS budget, which is already P1.3-T in 2021, not taking into account the 8 new departments, if we are going to approve these," Drilon said.

The Senate chief fiscalizer said the creation of new departments and agencies will further bloat the already bloated bureaucracy and may affect the government's limited resources for Covid-19 response.

He cited, for instance, the creation of a separate department for OFWs, which, according to a budget department official, Director Clotilde Cleofe, in a hearing in 2018, will require at least P1 billion, of which P580 million will be spent for PS alone.

In a position paper submitted by the DOF to the Senate, it said that the proposal would have an impact on the availability of funds for the coronavirus recovery programs, Drilon said.

For the proposed creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience, this would require at least P1.5 billion to set up and of which, P595 million will be spent for salaries, P299 million for MOOE and P173 million for CO, Drilon said citing the estimates provided by the DBM.

"We should not keep ourselves deeper in the hole by creating more departments at this point," Drilon said.

He asked the Senate leadership to prioritize the rightsizing measure before tackling any bill that calls for the creation of a new department or agency.

"I do share your concern about the burgeoning or growing bureaucracy. I think it is a concern for all developing nations, because there is a tendency to see the government as one of the main job creators," Senate Finance Committee Chair Sonny Angara said in response to Drilon.

"As you mentioned very correctly, this is sometimes at the expense of a more urgent priority - shoring up our infrastructure and investing in capital outlay," Angara said.

During the interpellation, Sotto said he favored discussing the rightsizing bill first before the creation of new departments and agencies.

"If you ask for my opinion, I would rather prioritize the rightsizing first before we look at the possibility of new offices, new agencies or new departments," Sotto said in response to a question raised by Senator Francis Tolentino on whether the rightsizing will affect the measures calling for creation of new departments.

Drilon said for 2021, the budget for personnel services gets a big chunk of the budget at P1.3 billion, or 33 percent of the P4.5 trillion proposed spending outlay, including the increasing pension of military and uniformed personnel

The budget for personnel service has been increasing over the years - from P882 billion in 2017, P961.9 billion in 2018, P1.138 trillion in 2019 and P1.184 trillion in 2020, according to Drilon.

On the other hand, the budget for Build-Build-Build is only P1.1 trillion, he underscored.

"This is what we are saying that the priorities must be examined carefully because this is not a business-as-usual budget," he underscored.

At the start of the budget deliberation, Drilon urged his colleagues to set the right priorities in the budget, as he lamented the lack of sufficient funding for programs that can help revive public confidence in the health system and bolster the demand side of the economy to perk up household spending that suffered a contraction of 9.3 percent in the third quarter of 2020.

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