By The Staff, August 14 2018; Daily Tribune


Image Credit to Inquirer.net

Even as Malacañang on Monday put its foot down on the legislature’s preference for the multi-year obligation budget system, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno released data proving the poor performance of one agency under the obligation budget approach to disbursement.

Thus, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the Executive will continue to uphold the cash approach no matter that the legislators insisted on observing the contrarian disbursement system.

“We are not about to give in. The cash transaction will ensure that only those projects that can actually be implemented be included in the budget. This is a very good solution to the problem of under-spending,” Roque said.

“We expect the usual cooperation from Congress soon because together, we will provide the needs of our constituents,” he quickly added.

Data from the Department of Budget and Management show the very poor disbursement rate of the obligation method compared not just against the legislated appropriation but against the cash disbursement method as well.

In the case of the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of HFEP of the Department of Health, for example, its disbursement rate proved less than a tenth of the total allocation.

This, Diokno said in a statement, is one clear instance of the “dismal spending performance” of the DoH in the implementation of the HFEP and justifies the decision for the massive cut in its budget allocation.

According to Diokno, the biggest cut in the proposed 2019 budget pertained to the HFEP which was assigned a budget of only P50 million versus a budget of P30 billion in the General Appropriations Act of 2018 and its P24 billion budget share in the General Appropriations Act of 2017.

He said that as of end-March this year, total HFEP disbursement stood at only P13.5 billion or less than 10 percent of the total P138 billion appropriations provided for the porgram since 2008.

“The agreement with the Department of Health is that they will undertake a careful assessment of the program – that is what the P50 million is for,” Diokno said.

“Is the HFEP cost-effective or is it wasteful use of taxpayers’ money?” he asked rhetorically.
Based on DoH data, the agency’s unliquidated obligation stands at P57.5 billion while its unobligated budget stands at P27.4 billion or a total of P84.8 billion.

“The DoH should explain how they can implement this amount which is higher than the DoH-proposed budget for 2019,” Diokno said.

He also said he has asked the Commission on Audit to perform another special review of the HFEP program.

The HFEP first became a budget line item in 2008 when it was appropriated P1.655 billion and reported obligated funds only in 2012 when it received a budget of P5.078 billion and obligated funds of another P1.067 billion.

It would receive double the budget of P10.772 billion the following year when it also obligated funds worth P3.134 billion.

In 2014 and 2015 when its budget stood in excess of P13 billion, it reported obligated funds worth P3.134 billion and more than double the following year at P6.653 billion, respectively.

By 2016 when it had a budget of P26.872 billion, the agency reported obligation funds worth P15.844 billion and for the first time reported a disbursement totaling P7.965 billion.