By Genalyn Kabiling
To ensure the efficient use of public funds, President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed the “conditional implementation” of several items in the P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020.
Among the budget provisions with conditions are the foreign travels of government officials, Last Mile Schools program, government subsidies, feeding programs, quick response funds, and medical assistance.
Republic Act No. 11465, or the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2020, was signed into law by the President last Monday.
“In truthful exercise of my Office in accordance with the mandate vested in me under the Constitution, I am duty bound to subject the following provisions to specific conditions prior to implementation, in order to faithfully comply with existing laws, policies, and rules and regulations, for the effective and efficient utilization of public funds,” Duterte wrote in his budget message.
Under the adherence to laws, rules and regulations, Duterte said the preference for locally-produced materials must be compliant with procurement laws and rules “so as not to unduly limit competition.”
Duterte said the use of government public funds for foreign travel must also be in accordance with Executive Order No. 77 issued in 2019. “This is to guarantee that the travel will be used only for the effective performance of an official or employee’s mandates or functions, and there is a substantial benefit to be derived by the State.”
He said the implementation of the Last Mile Schools Program, the resettlement of families affected by government units, government assistance and subsidies, and supplemental feeding programs must likewise be implemented in accordance with pertinent laws and rules.
He said the implementation of protective services programs must be in strict compliance with Section 65, General Provision on Fund Transfers to Civil Society Organizations.
On funding for foreign-assisted projects, Duterte said the identification of such projects shall not limit his office from negotiating other foreign loan agreements.
The quick response fund, a standby fund for relief and recovery programs for places hit by disasters and other emergencies, may not be used for “pre-disaster activities,” Duterte said.
On special funds, he said the rewards and incentive funds of the Department of Finance must secure approval from the Development Budget Coordination Committee in accordance with existing law and rules.
The tourism development fund must also be used only for the development, promotion, and marketing of tourism and other projects of the Department of Tourism.
Among the provisions subject to conditions are the adherence to laws, rules and regulations of certain programs, cash budgeting system, optimization of public funds, protection for government employees, shared fiscal responsibility, and submission of financial reports.
Under the adherence of laws, Duterte said the preference for locally-produced materials must be compliant with procurement laws and rules “so as not to unduly limit competition.”
Funds for Marawi and earthquake-damaged regions will be released upon the President’s approval of projects and implementing agencies or local government units.
In the same message, the President said they will adopt the cash budgeting system in the 2020 national budget. “The budget system is to be implemented without any setback to ensure timely and prompt delivery of services to the public in general,” he said.
Duterte also pushed for the “optimization of public funds” in financial subsidies to local government units (LGUs), medical assistance and purchase of drugs, funds for the Philippine Foreign Service, allocation of maintenance and other operating expenses, unprogrammed appropriations, entry level salary for government nurses, and cash grants to medical students,
The financial subsidy to LGUs will used for priority development projects only when such programs cannot be accommodated by available LGU funds.
Duterte also placed the subsistence and medical allowance of prisoners under conditional implementation “to limit the use of [the] medical allowance for the purchase of medicines, drugs, supplies, and materials.”
“Priority in the use thereof shall be given to inmates with immediate medical needs. Other cases shall be referred to infirmaries, public hospitals, and other licensed medical institutions,” he said.
On the cash grants to medical students, Duterte said there should be no double entitlement to such grants to beneficiaries who already receive scholarships from the Department of Health.