THE Duterte administration decided to junk the Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB) program of the previous administration and dismissed the system as useful only as a “political tool” but “a waste of funds,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Thursday.
“That is really a political tool by the administration. When I saw it, it’s now down to the barangay level,” Diokno told reporters in a press briefing, explaining that the Internal Revenue Allotment mandated by the Local Government Code is more than enough.
“The first major change is to discontinue the [BUB] because that was really politicized by the previous administration. When I saw it, it’s not going down to barangay level... That’s frittering away important government resources,” Diokno said.
“We could have used [BUB funds] for more effective projects... I think it’s a no-brainer, it’s a waste of funds,” he said.
Diokno said the Internal Revenue Allotment mandated by the Local Government Code has ballooned to P486 billion and that should be enough for local projects.
“I recognize IRA as an unconditional grant, P486 billion to be exact. That’s a lot of money on a formula basis. Its released to them automatically. They are supposed to do basic health services, social services, devolved responsibility of local governments,” Diokno said.
Diokno noted that the government has spent P74 billion for 54,000 BuB projects during the Aquino administration and yet it has not spent enough for infrastructure that would have brought more meaningful economic development.
“We have to make up for the past neglect of infrastructure,” he said, adding that building roads has more economic impact than government office buildings.
Diokno also explained that while the Supreme Court has outlawed lump-sum allocations, which the public calls pork barrel, in the budget, it is perfectly legal for lawmakers to identify their priority projects because Congress, after all, is the paladin of the government purse.
He said lawmakers can identify their favored projects during the budget deliberation process but doing so after the budget has been enacted would be violative of the high court’s decision.
“Congressmen and senators are supposed to authorize the budget. [They] have a right also to identify projects that they see their people need in their districts,” Diokno said, reiterating that there is actually no definite amount allocated for lawmakers.
“It could be P81 [million], it could be P79 [million]. It depends on the quality of your list of your projects. And that list of projects will still go through the budget process,” he said.
“As soon as the General Appropriations Act is signed into law then that’s a go, those projects listed there. Now, it is the responsibility of the citizen to make sure there’s no foolishness in those projects,” Diokno said.
“What was disallowed is post-enactment. There are discretionary funds, calamity funds, or contigency funds as natural parts of the budget [but] it’s not pork,” he added.
The Duterte administration will submit to Congress a national budget of P3.35 trillion for 2017, 11.6 percent, or P348 billion, more than the current year’s budget of P3.002 trillion.
As a percentage of GDP, the 2017 budget represents 20.4 percent compared this years 20.1 percent of GDP.
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