House Appropriations Chair and Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles says his panel has identified three government agencies which may see budget cuts due to supposed failure to use all of its funds efficiently.
According to Nograles, on top of possible reduction of their proposed budget for 2018, these three agencies can potentially contribute at least Php 37.5 Billion which can act as a standby fund once the free college education program is fully implemented in 114 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), 16 Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs) accredited by CHED and 122 Technical-Vocational Institutions (TVIs) under TESDA.
Nograles noted that during the budget briefing of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), he found out that the agency has P2.7 Billion of unused appropriations in 2016 and P2.695 Billion in unused appropriations in 2017.
“These funds will expire in December 31, 2017 and I doubt very much if DICT will be able to utilize these funds before the year ends. So instead of wasting these funds I would rather use the money to support the higher education law for free tuition and miscellaneous fees for students in SUCs, LUCs, TVIs,” Nograles said.
Nograles ordered the budget of the agency deferred pending the submission of more documents to justify their budgetary needs.
Nograles said that an additional Php 5 Billion can be sourced from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Php 30 Billion from the Department of Transportatin (DOTr).
“Another department with low utilization rate is the Department of Agrarian Reform that failed to utilize P6 Billion in 2015, and failed to obligate P5 Billion in 2016. The Department of Transportation, on the other hand, failed to utilize P33 Billion in 2015, and again in 2016 they have so far failed to obligate P30 Billion of their budget allocation,” Nograles said.
Nograles stressed however that since some of the unused allocations were programmed under the 2015 appropriations, the funds have already expired and were reverted to the national treasury.
The unused funds for the 2016 appropriations, on the other hand, will expire in December of this year. While it cannot be tapped for the 2018 national expenditure program, it can be programmed for spending under a supplemental budget.
“The 2016 funds are still alive and set to expire on December 31, 2017. At this point in time I am very doubtful they will be able to utilize those funds. So I am looking at considering these funds as savings and writing a supplemental budget to use as standby fund for the free higher education law,” Nograles said.
Nograles said that on the basis of the spending pattern of DICT, DAR and DOTr, his panel considers them as top candidates for possible budget cuts in their proposed 2018 budget without compromising President Duterte’s “Build Build Build” program.
The DICT has submitted a Php 6.87 Billion budget request for 2018. The DOTr is asking P73.8 Billion while the Department of Agrarian reform is seeking Php10.3 Billion.
“Based on their spending pattern, we now know where to make the cuts. At least for now, we have a standby source of at least P37.5 Billion which can be made available through supplemental budget in case we still fall short of the needed funds to support the free college education law,” Nograles said.
(video c/omike pangilinan)