Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday criticized the “insertions” made by lawmakers in the national budget, which he said would result in unused appropriations due to lack of consultation with government agencies.
Speaking to radio dzMM, Lacson said there was a disconnect between the needs of local governments and the national budget passed every year.
Lacson made his statement even as a leader of the House of Representatives on Wednesday belied any pork or “parked” funds in the 2020 national budget.
Deputy Speaker for finance and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte made the statement in response to Lacson’s claim that P20 billion worth of funds had no specific allocations under next year’s proposed P4.1-trillion national budget.
“We remain firm on our stand. The document speaks for itself, there’s no pork, there’s no parking,” Villafuerte told ANC.
Villafuerte also thumbed down Lacson’s proposal to make public the deliberations on the budget.
“It will become a circus, you will just grandstand,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Sonny Angara said there were no worries about the time to approve the bill extending the validity of certain items of the 2019 national budget.
“There's a lot of time. I don't think there's a reason to worry because we have about seven to eight weeks before the end of the year. We can pass it whether it's a bill or a resolution, said Angara, finance committee chairman.
He said a hearing would no longer be necessary for Senate Bill 1153, which he filed on Nov. 6, and that a committee report would just be presented in plenary for approval.
Lacson said local government units craft local development plans that are submitted to regional development councils for consolidation. However, only 25 percent of RDC recommendations are adapted by the national government in the budget every year.
He said one problem contributing to a bloated budget was when lawmakers push for insertions at the plenary without properly consulting the government agencies involved.
This, he said, led to a rise in unobligated and unreleased funds as agencies scrambled to implement projects included in the General Appropriations Act.
“When it comes to the plenary, lawmakers keep inserting without consultation with agencies, so there’s no planning involved,” Lacson said.
“Agencies are finding it difficult to implement projects because the planning does not come from them. There’s really no planning.”