MANILA, Philippines - The civil society group Social Watch Philippines is questioning some items in the 2013 budget submitted by Malacanang to Congress.
Social Watch convenor Leonor Briones says there are lump sum appropriations called Special Purpose Funds, which did not provide any breakdowns.
"The budget which has been submitted by national government to Congress is P2 trillion. If you add all those items among agencies like education, health, etc., ang total niyan P1.3-trillion lang. So we are asking to discuss the other trillion. Like the special purpose funds P317 billion, which no details are provided," she said.
Briones said Congress should take a closer look into these special purpose funds in the budget deliberations.
"Congress should watch out for this, even as they are making proposals for additional items. Bantayan nila kung ano ang nandiyan na sa budget na P2 trillion, of which we can account for P1 trillion and the other P1 trillion is not being discussed openly... Ang concern namin is other trillion lump sum appropriations that are handled directly by the DBM, with the approval of the President," she said.
Meanwhile, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said they've already answered all questions raised not only in Congress but also in a number of fora with civil society groups.
"There's a big chunk of money there which we had to put under the special purpose funds because they were submitted as lump sump by agencies like DOH, and our policy is we will not to allow agencies to carry lump sum. So they appeal to us, saying these are meant for rural health units and rehabilitation of of district and provincial hospitals," he told ANC.
Abad added the DBM has ordered government agencies to itemize any lump sum appropriations to promote transparency.
"We told them until you submit the aggregated list of items, we will put them under a separate item and we will not include them in the budget. This is a policy which we have adopted precisely to promote greater transparency in the use of public funds," he said. - ANC