'Where's the money going?': Recto questions P588-B unprogrammed funds for 2023

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2022 01:41 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2022 02:08 PM

Then Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto on March 9, 2021. Albert Calvelo, Senate PRIB/File Image
Then Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto on March 9, 2021. Albert Calvelo, Senate PRIB/File Image

MANILA — Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto is asking Malacañang for a "more detailed explanation" on the P588-billion worth of unprogrammed funds in the proposed 2023 national budget.

The Batangas lawmaker said next year's proposed expenditures is P5.856 trillion due to unprogrammed appropriations, and not the oft-quoted P5.268 trillion.

"P580 billion is a huge amount. And if you take a look, there are no details. It's just one-liner. It's a lump-sum appropriations," he told ANC's "Headstart". 

"I'm not against it. All I'm saying is that, let's provide more details. Where is this money going to be spent?" he added.

Recto noted the unprogrammed funds being asked for by the executive branch is more than double than this year's allotment of P251.7 billion.

Among those questioned by Recto in the 2023 Unprogrammed Appropriations are the "Support for the Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs" worth P149 billion, and "Support to Foreign Assisted Projects" worth P380 billion.

"I'm not against unprogrammed funds. But what I'm asking for is a more detailed explanation," he said.

While the unprogrammed appropriations lacked details, he supports some recipients of the funds, such as the P5 billion in AFP modernization.

"We're not against the purpose of investing our defense capability, but what are we purchasing and from whom are we purchasing?" he said.

Even if revenue collections are down, Recto said unprogrammed funds could still be disbursed. In previous general appropriations acts, unprogrammed funds can only be spent if revenue targets are exceeded or once loans have been perfected, he said.

Having lump sums in the budget makes it more prone to corruption, the lawmaker warned.

"It is important to do line items so that we can implement the budget as effectively, as efficiently, as economically as possible," he added.

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