Palace asks Congress for P2.6T budget in 2015
PNoy to control P500B lump sum funds
MANILA (UPDATED) - The Aquino administration on Wednesday asked Congress to approve a P2.6 trillion national budget for 2015, just ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
Budget Secretary Butch Abad led executive branch officials in submitting the proposed national budget to the House of Representatives, where all budget bills must originate.
The budget is contained in 6 volumes. The National Expenditure Program comprises 4 volumes.
An initial examination of the budget shows that over P500 billion, or 25%, are lump-sum funds under the control of the executive.
"The total amount that pertains to the special purpose funds that I have mentioned is... P670 billion or about 29 percent of the new (General Appropriations Act). The rest are department and agency budgets and that's about it," Abad said.
Over all, the proposed 2015 budget is 15.1% higher than the 2014 budget. It will target areas with high poverty incidence, high poverty rates, and high disaster risk.
Around P967.9 billion is earmarked for social services, of which P64.7 billion is for the Conditional Cash Transfer program for 4.4 million beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, P37.2 billion is earmarked for health insurance to cover 15.6 million beneficiaries, P52.7 billion is for basic educational facilities consisting of 31,728 classrooms and 13,586 water and sanitation facilities.
For the Bangsamoro Basic Law, P2.7 billion has been earmarked for various agencies. Around 7.3 billion will go to the PAMANA resettlement program.
More than 174 billion will be allotted for the Department of Public Works and Highways' (DPWH) roads and bridges program, P2 billion for Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) scholarships, and P592 million for the NAIA-1 rehabilitation project.
Around P45.1 billion will go to flood control, P139 million will go for cleaner air, and P99 million will go to waterways.
All in all, P700.2 billion will go to economic services, P399.4 billion to debt burden, P115.5 billion to defense, and P423.1 billion to general public services.
In the President's budget message, the executive insisted that the Supreme Court failed to consider all legal bases in striking out the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The Palace's 2015 proposed budget seeks to institutionalize DAP-like mechanisms.
For example, the budget proposal seeks to ask Congress to allow the executive to declare savings by the first semester of each year-- similar to National Budget Circular 541 that facilitated the DAP.
The 2015 budget is 18.4% of the Gross Domestic Product. It will be funded by projected revenues amounting to P2.337 trillion.
The budget deficit, meanwhile, is projected at P283.7 billion.
The top 10 budget recipients in 2015 will be:
DepEd - P364.958 billion
DPWH - P300.519 billion
DND - P144.036 billion
DILG - P141.423 billion
DSWD - P108.970 billion
DOH - P102.17 billion
DA - P88.818 billion
DOTC - P59.463 billion
DENR - P21.290 billion
Judiciary P20.285 billion
Budget deliberations will begin at the House committee level next week.
ABAD: BUDGET ITEMIZED
Abad gave assurances that the budget is itemized.
“We have to the extent, we could disaggregate this budget. That is why there are six volumes of it - because it is almost completely disaggregated with respect to some of the important programs that will benefit the communities," he said. "It is guided by, apart from the Philippine Development Plan, for the first time we use a budget priorities framework that defines the investments of government both in terms of sectors or programs and geographical areas."
For example, the budget focuses on about 37 percent on social services -- Conditional Cash Transfer, basic education, public health, social housing, and about 27 precent of economic activities, the biggest chunk is infrastructure which is about almost P600 billion pesos. Then, there is the focus on certain sectors like, aside from infrastructure agriculture and agri-business, tourism and certain manufacturing industries," Abad said. "Now, there are about 44 provinces that have been defined as priority in the budget, because either they belong to areas where they are provinces with very high poverty incidence or they are in districts and provinces where the magnitude of poor is also very high even if the incidence is low. And there are areas characterized as geohazard areas. So both in terms of sectoral priorities, as well as geographical focus, the budget has been so determined."
Abad explained an allocation for the Bangsamoro even before the Bangsamoro Basic Law is enacted.
“Certain phases of what the preparations are, for example, the normalization phase of the process. That is funded... what you may call confidence building programs to demonstrate the sincerity of our government in assisting them are already been in place and will be implemented in the Bangsamoro areas but I think a lot more of that will have to be generated later on when the Organic Act is enacted and the Transition Commission is organized.“
This adds to the operations of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
"For the regional operations of the ARMM, about PP23 billion has been set aside, which is an increase of about P3 billion this year," he said. "I think much more because some of the programs of the national agencies like the DPWH, you know, we have national roads and bridges programs that are being implemented there. The CCT programs are also being implemented there. The PhilHealth program are also being implemented there so it should be more than that."
BELMONTE: NO PORK BARREL
House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, for his part, gave assurances there will be no Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel for lawmakers.
"This budget does not contain any PDAF," he said. "Let us first define what is PDAF as post-budget identification of projects, meaning to say you have it is not there after the budget is finished then you start identifying it. There is no such thing."
"In other words, there will be no post-budget identification," he said.
House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, meanwhile, vowed to scrutinize the proposed 2015 national budget.
"I haven't taken a complete look on the budget. An obvious fact is we just got it right now but the amounts are quite large. You take a look at the amount right now," he said. "You're talking about P2.6 trillion, which doesn't even include unprogrammed amounts."
"So, one of the first questions to ask is, where do we get the money to fund this? As we go, obviously we will be looking at the individual programs. Some of them we have mentioned in our previous debate. For instance, CCT," he added. "I am uncertain even now, after 5, now 6 years of CCT, whether the program is in fact effective as it should be. Or should we not be looking at CCT less as a dole-out year-by-year program and more of a job-creation program which has a longer term and probably more sustainable growth pattern in mind. These are the questions that we will be asking and obviously, we will be doing this not just on the general provisions but on a specific department budgets.”