14 things the Senate minority wants to see in the 2017 budget
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As bicameral hearings on the proposed 2017 national budget are set to start, the Senate minority has laid out suggestions for the next year's budget.
Senate Minority Floor Leader Ralph Recto said they scrutinized the proposed national budget and came up with 14 points they want to push for.
1. Itemization of lump sum funds
According to Recto, large amounts in the budget remains unitemized. He said these one-line item appropriations abound in the budgets of:
- Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
- Department of Agriculture (DA)
- Department of Education (DepEd)
- Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
- Department of Transportation (DOTr)
2. Recommends geo-tagging of projects
3. Penalties for underspending
The minority calls for 'ironclad penalties' against underspending. Recto cited DOTr and DepEd as examples:
- In DOTr, P38 billion worth of rail, air, maritime, and road projects did not materialize
- In DepEd, accumulated backlogs from 2014 to 2016 continue to pile. Money could have been used to create 64,000 classrooms, hire 18,700 teachers, construct 1,700 tech-voc and computer labs, deliver 91.7 million books, and purchase 15,400 science and math lab equipments. (Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story, data from the Office of Senator Recto included the projected DepEd backlog for 2017. This version has been updated with the correct figures.)
4. End transfering of expiring allocations
Recto said it is an emerging bad habit among agencies to transfer their expiring allocations to other agencies and report them as 'fund utilization.' He said it is only an accounting trick – not fund utilization nor procurement.
5. Reinstallation of 'rearview mirror' provision
The provision would allow the public to know if projects funded in past appropriations were implemented.
6. An 'employment odometer'
Recto said the minority advocates for the odometer to know how many jobs will be generated with the P3.35-trillion budget.
7. Restore 'Buy Philippine Made' provision
Recto scored the need to restore the provision to add muscle to the domestic manufacturing sector.
8. Increase budget on the P13 meals for malnourished kids to P25
According to Recto, the nutritional value of the P13-value meals served to malnourished children is questionable. He said increasing it to P25 will cost the government P2.5 billion more. This figure is incomparable to the P328 billion annual loses caused by childhood malnutrition, he said.
9. P1.6-B increase in the Rural Health Practice Program of DOH
This should end what he called 'en-DOH' (end of contract in the Department of Health) of 6,000 nurses deployed in rural areas.
10. P3-B increase in DOH's drugs and medicines procurement budget
11. Additional incentives for centenarians
12. Use unutilized DepEd funds to increase the P1,500 chalk allowance of teachers
13. Use P5 billion in the Unprogrammed Fund for police equipment
14. Cut non-essential government expenses by 10%
The minority calls for lowered overhead expenses so that funds be used instead for social services. Recto also said the government's proposed P17.7 billion travelling expenses should also be trimmed down. – Rappler.com