By Beatrice M. Laforga, February 11, 2020; Business World

The fund utilization rate posted by government agencies remained at 97% in 2019, despite the delayed budget passage last year, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The indicator, as measured by usage of a DBM fund-release mechanism known as the Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA), was 97% during the last two quarters of the year, down from the 99% and 98% performance during the first and second quarters, respectively.

DBM Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua said the high levels of fund utilization were “proof of (the) catching up program, despite the late enactment of the budget.”

Agencies used P3.234 trillion out of the P3.338 trillion worth of NCAs released last year, leaving a balance of P103.651 billion.

Government departments used P2.425 trillion worth of NCAs out of the P2.522 trillion released, translating to a 96% in utilization rate while NCAs released for other purposes such as the national government’s budgetary support for state-owned agencies and the allocations for local government units posted a 99% utilization rate, after using P808.811 billion worth of NCAs out of the P815.15 billion total releases.

Four agencies that posted 100% utilization rates last year were the Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections and the Office of the Ombudsman.

The lowest utilization rates were posted by the Department of Foreign Affairs at 68% (P13.09 billion out of P19.148 billion allocated), DBM at 71% (P4.615 billion out of P6.524 billion) and the National Economic and Development Authority at 71% (P6.469 billion out of the allocated P9.163 billion).

Other offices that recorded low utilization rates were the Department of Information and Communication Technology (73%), Department of Energy (76%) and Department of Tourism (77%).

A Notice of Cash Allocation refers to a cash authority issued by the DBM to central, regional and provincial offices and operating units through the authorized government servicing banks to cover the cash needed by the agencies.