Senate okays Php22.467-B supplemental budget

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Dec. 17 (PNA) – With 13-0 vote, the Senate on Wednesday night approved on second and third readings the Php22.467-billion supplemental budget for fiscal year 2014.

Senate finance committee chairman Sen. Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero said the Senate has introduced minor adjustments in the amount, including the Php5.2 million of the Department of Justice for the transfer of Quezon City prosecutors and Public Attorney’s Office to DOJ building in Quezon City.

”The budget is for purchase of furniture but the building has no water and electrical wiring yet so we allot additional Php5 million for that under the DOJ,” Escudero said.

Escudero said if the House of Representatives will adopt ‘en toto, there will be no need to form bicameral conference committee.”

”But if not, then we have to go through bicam and this will be ratified next year,” he said.

Escudero said under the measure, “three classifications of projects were identified, we adopted the same version of the House in as far as project identification is concerned.”

However, he said they added a new provision on the use and release of funds.

“Under Section 3 of the measure, we stipulated that a uniform formula or parameter be developed for the fair and equitable distribution of Emergency Shelter Assistance funds across typhoon-affected barangays, municipalities or provinces nationwide,” he said.

First among the identified projects are those that have remained unpaid and outstanding after being declared unconstitutional in the Supreme Court ruling on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

”These projects amounted to Php1, 902,744,124 and were completed prior to the SC’s ruling on PDAF. Such obligations are valid as incurred by the government,” Escudero said.

Second are projects partially-implemented or unimplemented that were declared unconstitutional by the SC in its Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Listed under these projects are the Coconut Scale Insect Emergency Action Plan for the coconut farmers amounting to Php340,345,000, the rehabilitation of LRT Lines 1 and 2 with a total amount of Php727,690,000 and the construction of fish ports, lighthouses and seawalls with a total appropriation of Php196,385,000.

Third identified projects are urgent infrastructure, socio-economic, rehabilitation and reconstruction projects which are not funded in any existing appropriations law. Among such projects are the MRT 3 Rehabilitation and Capacity Extension amounting to Php1,207,163,000, the updating of DSWD’s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) amounting to Php1,942,521,000 , and the Construction of 27, 313 Units of Permanent Housing For Victims Of Typhoon Yolanda which amounts to Php7,999,978,000.

Escudero reiterated that safeguards are in placed to deter abuse of lumps sums in the budget, as what other items are in the supplemental budget but he says this is different from having pork.

“Just like what we did in the 2014 budget, we require them to submit a special budget in accordance with the Revised Administrative Code.

Escudero said in Sec. 63 of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2015, lump sum appropriations shall be released upon compliance with the requirements under special provisions which will be submitted to Congress. It shall include the complete details of the programs, activities and projects covering the lump sum appropriations. He says this applies to the Supplemental Appropriations too.

The senator said the proposed measure shall be funded by the excess dividend collections of the national treasury. He said before putting the measure to the floor for approval, he obtained from the state treasurer not only a certification of the excess collection but also of the actual availability of the said fund to back the proposed supplemental budget. (PNA)