By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera sought on Sunday, January 12 the expeditious, and proper use of the P4.1-trillion national budget for this year as well as the unspent portion of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The member of the budget-writing bicameral conference committee made the call following the signing of the 2020 national budget and Republic Act 11464, which extended the validity of the unused 2019 appropriations until the end of this year.
She noted that the General Appropriations Act of 2020, and RA 11464, which was signed into law on January 6, 2020 and December 20, 2019, respectively are the two budgets that the Executive should spend this year.
“So if government were a car, it will start the year with a full tank of gas plus a reserve tank from last year’s unused supply,“ Herrera said in a statement.
“Under this circumstance, what should it do? Step on the gas so it will have all its pistons running. The first half of this year is the make-up period for the last year’s late passage of the budget,” she said.
The House deputy majority leader asked the Executive Department to avoid underspending by spending the funds “in a fast but proper manner.”
Herrera challenged government agencies to ensure that their respective allocations will be fully and judiciously spent.
“Expenditure-wise this is no ordinary year. Roll out and use of funds must also be different in the sense that agencies must work double time in spending their allocations,” she said.
“But haste should not lead to waste,” she added.
The partylist lawmaker warned against poor spending, saying that it “is as bad as underspending.”
“It should not lead to panic spending where agencies, just to meet targets, will apply money on easy to spend projects that register low in the public good,” Herrera said.
She also counted on agencies to be transparent in carrying out their programs and projects.
She said agencies should publicly disclose on their websites the status of the projects, activities, programs they will implement, including its cost and location.