By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Thursday criticized what he called as “pasa-load” scheme among government agencies to justify that budgetary allocations for projects obligated for the year.
Recto referred to the practice of transferring allotments from one agency to another in an attempt to cover up the failure to spend.
“Ang nangyayari kasi ngayon, para lang masabi na ‘obligated’ na ang allotment ay pinapasa ito sa ibang ahensya (Because what happens now is that allotments are being passed on to other agencies just to be able to say these are ‘obligated’),” Recto said in his statement.
“Ginagawa ito upang maipagmalaki na obligated na ang isang pondo, at hindi na ma-revert back sa Treasury (This is being done to boast that funds for a certain project are obligated, and not be reverted back to the National Treasury),” he explained.
“The result is that funds are not spent, but are merely parked in another agency,” he said.
Such practice not only delays the implementation of projects but also spoils the government’s efforts to accelerate budget disbursement through the cash-based budgeting system, he noted.
Recto said a “favorite” repository of parked allotments was the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC).
The Commission on Audit (COA) had reported that the PITC received about P30.63 billion worth of fund transfers from various agencies in 2018.
The COA also found that the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (PS-DBM) got P17.04 billion in the same year from government agencies for the procurement of various items and projects.
Among the agencies that transferred their funds was the Philippine National Police (PNP), Recto said.
He said the PNP engaged the services of the PITC last year to purchase equipment amounting to P1.35 billion. The PITC, however, delivered only P137.5 million worth of purchases by end-2018, which is a mere “one-tenth of the amount”.
The PNP has also yet to collect about P5.08 billion worth of projects from PS-DBM intended for the procurement of common-use supplies, materials and various equipment, military and police supplies, and municipal police stations as of December 2018.
Recto also mentioned the Department of Transportation, as well as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which he said was “suffering from budgetary indigestion for having more than what it can chew.”
“The question is: What is the competence of these agencies to, say, conduct a due diligence-compliant procurement of highly-specialized goods like trains, ships, planes, and automobiles?” Recto said.
“We should end this lateral transfer of funds whose intent is to beat the clock, a pasa-load scheme to extend the life of an appropriation about to expire,” h added.
Recto urged his colleagues in Congress to use its oversight powers to find out how agencies are spending their appropriations.
The Senate is set to start plenary deliberations on the proposed 2020 national budget next week.