Government to siphon off up to P60 billion from agencies

By Iris C. Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 25 2011 08:23 AM | Updated as of Jul 25 2011 04:23 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is eyeing to siphon off an estimated P30 to P60 billion “cash on hand” of National Government agencies with the aim of putting these funds back to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), National Treasurer Roberto Tan said.

In an interview with The STAR, Tan said the Treasury is currently doing an inventory of these accounts of national government agencies.

The aim is to put this back to the Treasury which would be more capable of managing and monitoring the funds, he said.

“As part of our Treasury function, we are now trying to identify or get back the money that’s out there in national agencies. We’re trying to do an inventory of this with the objective of taking out all these idle funds and putting this back to the Treasury so that we don’t have to borrow as much as we do now,” Tan said.

“There are various estimates but it can go as much as P30 to P60 billion,” Tan said when asked how much is the total amount of cash held by state-owned agencies.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said that at this level, the amount is substantial for it to just sit in banks’ current accounts.

“These are mostly cash on hand and in banks,” Purisima noted.

Purisima said the move is part of efforts to put government resources to better use.

Aside from looking into the bank accounts of national agencies, Tan said another initiative is to do an inventory of government assets.

“Once we get an inventory of these government assets, we will be able to determine which ones we can dispose off and which ones we can still use,” Tan said.

Purisima said that although privatization is not a priority in raising revenues for the government, there is still a need to do an inventory of state-owned assets as an initial step in determining how to better manage these assets.

He said the government may dispose off or improve the management of the assets, depending on their value to the state.

The government hopes to contain the budget deficit at roughly P290 billion this year or 3.2% of gross domestic product from the actual P314.4 billion or 3.7% of GDP last year.