Senators seek special GAA provision stopping fund transfers to DBM-PS, PITC

Senators are eyeing a special provision under the proposed 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) that would put an end to the practice of government agencies of transferring their funds to the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (DBM-PS) and the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC).

During the Senate Finance Committee’s budget hearing on the proposed P2.228-billion budget of the DBM, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked DBM Officer-in-Charge Tina Rose Marie Canda to submit a special provision to the committee that would stop the practice of government agencies from transferring its funds to the two agencies, including inter-agency fund transfer.

Drilon said this particular system has not been helpful to the Philippine economy because public funds are not actually utilized.

“It shows a higher obligation rate but the system does not help our economy because the funds are not actually utilized,” Drilon lamented.

Drilon pointed out that from 2014 to 2020, national agencies transferred no less than P50.7-billion to PITC and P91.8-billion to DBM-PS. The funds were considered obligated or utilized.

The senator also asked Canda to include a circular to address the “problems encountered” and a structural reform of the DBM-PS.

Canda agreed with Drilon and said they can possibly rectify it “in the next couple of years, similar to the Bayanihan Law.

“It was provided that transfers of funds would ultimately mean reversion if at the end of the year it has not been utilized,” Canda said in response to Drilon’s query.

“It is a good practice and it is in connection with the Executive Order No. 91 on cash-based budgeting that if you don’t implement it without the period specified, you don’t try to get around a law and transfer it to another agency and consider it already assigned,” she added.

Senate finance panel chair, Sen. Sonny Angara, for his part, agreed with Drilon on the need to craft such provision.

“I’d like to clarify the provision...a sort of Bayanihan type provision that would provide that if you have not used these funds by a certain date they will revert to the national government so they cannot stay there indefinitely or fester or rot in a particular department?” Angara asked Canda.

Canda immediately answered in the affirmative, prompting Angara to promise to work with the DBM in crafting this particular policy.

“We’ll work with you and Sen. Drilon and the other senators to craft that provision,” Angara said.