Solon proposes tighter audit of confidential funds in 2024 budget law

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 19 2023 02:46 PM

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. File Photo
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. File Photo

MANILA — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Tuesday said he wants to tighten the national budget's provisions on confidential and intelligence funds to ensure more transparency and accountability in its use and auditing.

During his interpellation at the start of the plenary deliberations of the House of Representatives on House Bill 8980, or the proposed 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA), Lagman said there is a need to reword the provision on the controversial funds. 

"We could provide for a special or general provision on the utilization and reporting of confidential and intelligence fund in the general appropriations bill to make [it] more transparent… Congress can do that through the General Appropriations Bill considering that this circular is only an administrative fiat,” Lagman said.

During the interpellation, Lagman conceded the need to amend the provision.

"That is why I am proposing that in the General Appropriations Bill, we provide strict reporting requirements for purpose of transparency in the utilization of confidential and intelligence funs and have remedial provisions on [COA-DBM] joint circular 2015-01,” he explained. 

Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, House budget panel vice chair, was open to reforming the provision.

"I agree to better audit and increased transparency for these funds but, perhaps, exactly how to increase the transparency needs to be talked about further,” she said. 

The use of confidential funds is subject to audit and must be reported quarterly to the President, the Senate president, the House speaker and the department secretary of the government agency granted the money.

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