Nothing irregular in standby items

The so-called unprogrammed funds worth P588 billion are regular and have been arrived at using a formula that has been observed in previous years’ budget proposals.

The Department of Budget and Management on Wednesday assured that there are no irregularities in the so-called unprogrammed allocations.

At a Palace press briefing, DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman pointed out that the unprogrammed funds were “actually itemized” for “transparency.”

Some members of the House of Representatives questioned the unappropriated funds, saying that these should be itemized.

“The projects included [in the unprogrammed appropriations] are those we do not expect to be implemented, just like those projects that we had at the height of the pandemic,” Pangandaman, noting that the funds can be used for “emergency” or “crisis” situations, said.

The Budget chief explained that of the P588.1 billion, some P149.6 billion will be used to support infrastructure projects and social programs, including vaccine procurement worth P22 billion.

She added that around P5 billion will support the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Modernization Program, P20.6 billion for budgetary support to government-owned or -controlled corporations; P1 billion for the Risk Management Program; and P2 billion for payment of arrears of the Land Transportation Office — Information Technology’s Service.

Rehab of Tokyo property

About P210.5 million will be allocated for the refund of the service development fee for the right to develop the Nampeidai Property in Tokyo, Japan.

Some P380 billion will be earmarked to support foreign-assisted projects and P378.2 billion of which will be given to the Department of Transportation while the remaining P2.2 billion will go to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Pangandaman noted that P10 billion of the unprogrammed funds will be allocated for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Equity Infusion pursuant to Republic Acct 11211.
Some P18.9 billion of the unprogrammed funds will be allocated for public health emergency benefits and allowances for health and non-healthcare workers and P14 million for Prior Years’ local government units shares.

“The (unprogrammed appropriation) came into being more than four decades ago and was accepted by subsequent administrations. It is a form of standby appropriations, meaning if at any given point when excess revenues are not generated, and an item of appropriations is found to be deficient or even non-existent, then unprogrammed appropriation will be triggered,” said Pangandaman.

In a separate statement, the DBM said only P200 billion or four percent of the P588.1 billion will be “considered unprogrammed,” since P378.2 billion of the total AUs will be allocated for DoTr’s loan proceeds requirements

“Hence, the DBM contends that if there is going to be an analysis on whether it exceeded the ideal percentage of UA against the national budget, it should be based on the P200 billion unprogrammed appropriation, and not with the P378.2 billion unprogrammed appropriation corresponding to loan proceeds of DoTr,” the agency said.

“Thus, should this be removed, only approximately PHP200 billion, or 4 percent, is considered unprogrammed, which will be triggered for release only upon the generation of additional revenues,” it added.

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