Recto: DBM documents don't show status of funded projects

Posted at 08/17/14 7:39 PM

DMB should keep tabs of implementation of projects - Recto

MANILA -- They may be one-foot thick and weigh 11 kilograms, but the budget documents submitted by Malacanang do not show if the programs and projects funded by the previous General Appropriations Act (GAA) have been implemented, Senator Ralph Recto complained.

In a statement, Recto noted: “We are in receipt of seven documents, more than one foot thick, almost 11 kilos in weight, containing 5,020 pages of fine print, but you can go through all of them line by line and you won't find anything which says that the projects lovingly enumerated in the previous year’s budget have been implemented.”

“My question is: If you were able to carefully itemize the projects when you were asking for money, then what prevents you now that you have come back to ask for more from giving us an itemized report of how the money was spent?” Recto continued, adding that itemizing the statuses of the projects would show transparency and accountability.

Recto is pushing for a “new budget accountability form” to included in the budget documents submitted to Congress, saying this will be like a “receipt” showing how the budget was used.

“The idea is for the executive to return to us the same GAA but this time it will be in annotated form. Every funding item in the GAA of the previous year will carry a corresponding note indicating when it was completed and the amount spent for its completion,” Recto said. “If a line-item in the GAA says that P100 million is appropriated for this road, then what we want is for the government to submit next year the same GAA with a status report opposite the line-item.”

For Recto, the GAA should serve as a checklist of previous projects funded.

“The beauty of this approach is that lump-sum funds can be disaggregated. Kung, halimbawa, block fund ang Calamity Fund, sa proposal ko itemized na sa post-budget reporting kung saan pumunta,” he explained, noting that this procedure would allow Congress to see if the budget were converted into savings or diverted elsewhere.

At the moment, “it is hard for Congress or for its constituents to check if a specific project authorized in the GAA has indeed been implemented or has been realigned or its funds impounded,” he said.

It is also not necessary that the Commission on Audit alone makes a status report, he added.

“The Department of Budget and Management, whose recent radical reforms allow it to keep tab of each and every project, can render the report,” Recto said.