Abad: We need to restore trust

By Zinnia Dela Peña, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 31 2014 03:54 AM | Updated as of Jul 31 2014 11:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is bent on restoring the public's faith in the government amid the controversy over the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said yesterday.

In a forum organized by several socio-civic organizations, Abad maintained the SC ruling poses a significant threat to the country’s economic development, but the government remains committed to good governance and transparency.

The SC ruling voided some parts of the DAP as unconstitutional for allegedly usurping Congress’ exclusive power over the purse.

Abad insisted that the DAP has successfully served its purpose as a fiscal stimulus measure to accelerate public spending and sustain economic growth.

He said the DAP enabled the government to implement programs and projects worth P140.8 billion from 2011 to 2013 by augmenting expenditure items using savings from programmed appropriations and mobilizing additional revenues for unprogrammed items.

The acceleration of expenditures played a significant role in the expansion of the local economy, he added.

“The Supreme Court, unfortunately, did not see it this way but we respect its decision. We filed an appeal… Whichever way the High Court decides on DAP, we will forge on toward rebuilding public institutions so they can better serve the people,” he said.

Terrible shame

“It would be a terrible shame if a landmark decision such as on DAP can bring progress to a grinding halt after we’ve achieved so much,” he added.

He said the government would continue to pursue government expenditure where funds are spent quickly and efficiently, utilization of public funds is guided by the principles of transparency, accountability and citizen empowerment and every peso spent benefits the people.

Economists are wary that the DAP issue, which pits President Aquino against the SC, would derail the economy from achieving sustained inclusive growth, as officials would be more circumspect in carrying out big infrastructure projects.

Abad, however, assured the public this setback would not paralyze the government, noting that more reforms that would tighten budget operations and policies for utmost clarity are underway.

He said the executive would likewise seek the help of both Houses of Congress on how it can address the problems that the SC ruling raised.