Press Release
August 24, 2021

Drilon urges Congress to curb wasteful gov't spending, trim budget of security sector in favor of social services

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon vowed to root out wasteful and unnecessary government spending in the proposed P5.024-trillion 2022 national budget to ease the impact of the mounting national debt and expanding budget deficit.

"The rising outstanding national debt, which is to be paid out of the taxpayers' money, calls for a need to eliminate unnecessary items in the budget. We need to get rid of the fat in the national budget. We must trim the bloated spending for the security sector next year so that we can ease the impact of the mounting debt and deficit on our national coffers," Drilon said on Tuesday.

"While this rising debt is something we cannot avoid because of the pandemic, what we can do is to make sure that every centavo that we allocate is spent judiciously. There is no room for inefficiency. There is no excuse for underspending and delays," Drilon said.

"The enormous debt is alarming. We are approaching the red alert zone for our debt and that can affect our financial standing. However, we can tolerate it as long as it goes to our pandemic response and it is used for the much-needed ayuda for our countrymen," Drilon said.

Drilon said that it would be up to Congress, where the power of the purse lies, to trim the excess fats and unnecessary spending in the budget such as the P28.1-billion anti-insurgency fund lodged under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

If the P28.1 billion and similar programs are deleted from the budget, it can help lower the borrowings and the deficit gap, Drilon said.

"We can remove this item or channel the funds to ayuda," he added. "Given our limited resources, we must prioritize ayuda over NTF-ELCAC. We must cut funding for the security sector in favor of the social services sector."

Drilon also cited the government's confidential and intelligence funds worth billions of pesos as among the items that can be reduced in order to save money.

The Philippines' outstanding debt has grown exponentially due to increased borrowings to fund the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted.

Drilon had earlier said that the next administration will face a hefty debt burden on top of a shrinking Philippine economy due to the pandemic.

Based on several budget documents submitted by the Department of Budget and Management, the government expects to breach the 60% ideal debt-to-GDP ratio in 2022. It is expected to reach P11.73 trillion by the end of 2021 and further rise to P13.42 trillion by the end of 2022.

To finance the P5.024-trillion spending outlay for 2022, an election year, the government plans to borrow P2.47 trillion, smaller than the P3.07 trillion borrowings in 2021, Drilon noted.

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