Senate finance panel to look into bloated gov’t projects in proposed 2024 nat’l budget—Angara

The Senate Committee on Finance will carefully scrutinize all government projects under the proposed P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024 that are allegedly bloated by 328 percent. 



Sen. Sonny Angara (Senate PRIB Photo)


Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chairman of the finance panel, made the assurance on Sunday, August 27, saying he will look into former senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s claims that some government projects in next year’s budget are bloated after receiving “double, triple, quadruple and quintuple” appropriations. 


On Twitter last week, Lacson revealed there are 45 projects in the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and in the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP) that have excessively, unreasonably, unnecessarily and unconscionably bloating fund allocations in the range of 109% to 328%” which “sadly, nobody seems to mind at all.”


In a Radio DZBB interview, Angara said the Senate panel is aware of these questionable appropriations and will thoroughly inspect these entries in the upcoming budget deliberations.


“Binanggit po yan ni (That was also raised by) Sen. Alan Cayetano. Binusisi niya at sabi niya, may mga (He scrutinized it and he said there were many) double entry (entries). Kaya pinatanggal namin dati sa DPWH (That’s why we asked the DPWH to remove it),” Angara said referring to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). 


“Yet despite that there were a total of P2-billion worth of projects, around, approximately, na parang nag (that seemed to be) -duplicate item,” he lamented.


The P2-billion funds that were not utilized ended up being reverted back to the National Treasury. 


“Yun ay sayang dahil pwede panggastusan ng classrooms or ng ibang kalsada. So yung ibang duplicate na yun, definitely sayang yun (That was wasted because that funds could have been used to build more classrooms or roads. So definitely those duplicate items were wasted. 


Angara said senators have raised this issue to the state economic managers briefly during the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) briefing in the Senate last week, and asked the government to modernize its processing system so they can trace any double entry items in the budget. 


“Even kids who do term paper can trace if there are double entries in their term paper or thesis, then why can’t the government, and we’re talking here of national budget which is very important, could not do it?” he lamented.


“So, definitely, isisingil nati yan sa mga agency na dapat wala ng ganyan dahil 21st century  na tayo, dapat wala ng basic mistakes tulad nyan dahil sayang nga yung pondo na ‘yun, hindi magagastos dahil walang appropriation. Hindi puwedeng i-transfer sa ibang item (we will ask the agencies about it because that is unacceptable in a 21st century, there should no longer be any basic mistakes so we won’t waste funds. We could no longer use that because there is no appropriation,” the senator pointed out.


Angara said the panel will take into account all the concerns raised by former senator Lacson, saying “they can still do something about it.”


“At dahil nire-require na rin po natin yung line item budgeting, dapat very specific yung paglagay sa project (And since we are already requiring line item budgeting, then the agencies must offer very specific details about the proposed project),” he stressed.