Abad to GMA: Hello? What gains are you saying?

Posted at 06/26/11 5:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The government was barely surviving with a small budget when the Aquino administration took over, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

He expressed both amusement and anger over former President and now Pampanga 2nd Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s statements that she turned over a health economy to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“The first question that comes to mind is what gains? The people’s gains, or her gains?... Prudent expenditure took a back seat to political survival and political patronage during the previous administration,” he said.

He said that when they took over in July, less than 40% was left of the P1.541-trillion budget for 2010.

He also stressed the need for replenishing the P2-billion worth 2010 Calamity Fund because the previous administration had already used up 70% during the first half alone.

Abad also cited the staggering obligations of the National Food Authority during her time. The obligations are now up to P176.8 billion, from only P18 billion in 2001.

“P123 billion of that was incurred in just two and a half years, from 2008 to 2010. In those years, we overbought way beyond what we needed and at prices way above world prices,” he said.

He claimed the Arroyo administration even allowed the P16.5 billion of P67.98 billion in Congressional insertions. These were subject to a conditional veto for as long as new revenues are raised. “In other words, the previous administration violated its own veto message,” he said. 

He said the Aquino government was able to reduce the deficit to 3.5% of the GDP by end 2010. This, while adequately providing for the needs of Filipinos, he claimed.

“Nobody home? Of course! We’ve left the old neighbourhood. We live in a new neighborhood now—where decency, transparency and accountability reign,” Abad said.