DBM: Agency funds still unutilized within budget period must be reverted to Treasury

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 20) — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has proposed the addition of a general provision in this year’s General Appropriations Act that will entail reversion of unutilized funds to the Treasury by the end of the period.

DBM officer-in-charge Undersecretary Tina Canda told senators during the budget deliberation on Monday that some agencies tried getting around the system by transferring funds to a procuring body or within their respective departments, noting this would consider the amount “obligated or disbursed.”

“The reason that they’re transferring at this point, especially at this period, would be to show a high obligation rate,” said Canda, who also cited the Bayanihan law as reference. The measure mandates the reversion of unspent funds once the prescribed period lapses.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon cited the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. TESDA reported a disbursement rate of over 80% during the budget deliberation, only for the Senate Finance Committee to find out that the agency merely transferred funds to its regional offices.

“We want the economy to get better. It won’t get better if these are just paper transfers or paper releases,” said Senate Finance Committee chairman Sonny Angara, as he agreed to the submission of the proposed provision.

Drilon also recalled how state auditors flagged the huge amounts transferred to the Philippine International Trading Corporation, wherein the funds supposedly just stayed there for periods of time without getting returned to the Treasury.

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The proposed budget for 2022 is worth ₱5.024 trillion, which is said to be the highest in Philippine history. Government spending is among those touted to help revive the pandemic-stricken economy, which grew by 11.8% in the second quarter of this year but shrank by 1.3% quarter-on-quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis.