Press Release
August 22, 2014

Angara to DBM: Be more transparent in realigning budget savings

Malacanang should open up the process of realigning budgetary savings to a broader audience so that rechanneled funds will have the imprint of having been determined through wider consultations.

This was proposed today by Senator Sonny Angara who said the "openness" by which the national budget is prepared in the executive branch and debated in Congress should also "characterize the period when the budget is being executed."

"What I am saying is that the transparency which marks budget preparation and budget legislation must also be present in budget implementation. The open budget initiative should transcend all," the chair of the Senate ways and means said.

"We cannot have a system in which the budget bill is debated in the open, in plenary, only to have it adjusted behind closed doors," he stressed.

Angara said there should be "a way in making the application of budget savings more participative."

"Paano ba ang proseso na sinusunod sa pag-gugol ng savings? Meron bang konsultasyon? If funds become available does the DBM issue a budget call?" Angara asked.

"If an agency, for example, has a need for more funds, what is the mechanism by which it will know that there is this freed amount which it can tap?" he exclaimed.

Angara said standards should be set in disbursing savings based "on need, urgency, capacity of the agency to utilize it, the common good that it will cause, progress it will generate."

"Having this criteria, he noted, is like having a "competition policy" that will guide agencies on how to apply as a recipient of savings."

"While the use of savings is largely discretionary on the part of executive leaders, it will help if some standards are to be followed," he added.

Angara said the DBM's move to invite the private sector, local governments and NGOs in the preparation of the budget is a commendable one.

"There is also the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting exercise. If that is the case, the stakeholders involvement should not end when the GAA is printed. It must continue when large amounts of money are basically reappropriated," he explained.

Angara pointed out the "use of savings" is a fixture in public expenditure management. "It is here to stay. It is legal. It is constitutional. So let us make it more democratic."

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