Congress demurs budget item

The Congress is curious about a detail on the 2023 proposed national budget–the P588.1 billion earmarked for “Unprogrammed Appropriations” (UA)–which will put the Budget department through a flurry of tough questions.

UA are a standby wishlist to be funded when the government exceeds revenue collection targets so that it has an extra to spare.

Deputy Speaker Isidro Ungab noted that the UA in question accounts for 16 percent of the total planned new appropriations in the proposed 2023 budget, a quantum leap from the standard 2 percent to 5 percent in historical records.

The solon cites Reform Bill, where UA should not exceed 2 percent of the total proposed expenditures in the programmed component of the General Appropriations Act.

The lawmaker said DBM ought to make it clear these UA are in the Constitution.

“I believe clarifications on these UA must be made…since [they] are also considered revenue-based expenditure. Thus, it would be best if we will be able to include these UA in the budget, with sufficient guidelines and proper limitations,” he said.

Ungab argues huge UA may deprive unplanned and unexpected expenses funding, even if they are equally or more important.

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