Diversion of gov’t funds to COVID-19 fight hailed

April 23, 2020

A House leader lauded the Department of Budget and Management for reducing expenses on non-essential items and channeling the funds to the government’s response in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts and Anakalususan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said the DBM can even use other savings especially now that most of the government agencies and offices are closed due to enhanced community quarantine.

The DBM will impose a 10-percent reduction on non-essential expenses of the bureaucracy like those for travel.

“I think the DBM can effect bigger mandatory savings. The enhanced community quarantine that is already on its 38th day today is naturally preventing most agencies from spending a large part of their operating funds since they are closed. That is money unspent that we can use in the fight against Covid-19,” Defensor said.

The solon noted that the bureaucracy can forego unnecessary expenditures such as those for travel, seminars, dining out, and entertainment “not only at this time but for the entire year so we can have enough funds to win the war against COVID-19 and to help our people.”

In a circular issued yesterday, DBM Secretary Wendel Avisado informed agencies that 35 percent of their programmed appropriations for this year would no longer be available.

Additionally, the DBM imposed a 10-percent reduction on appropriations for certain non-essential expenses.

Defensor previously proposed the imposition of 20-percent mandatory savings.

He said among the non-essential maintenance and other operating expense items that could be cut and their corresponding appropriations in the 2020 budget are travel, P19.4 billion; training and scholarship, P32.9 billion; supplies and materials, P108.3 billion; and representation, or dining out and entertainment by officials and their guests, P5.2 billion.

Others that could be reduced are communication, P10.7 billion; hiring of consultants, P29 billion; advertising, P3 billion; subscription, P4.1 billion; and donations, P41.8 billion; printing and publication, P1.9 billion; and membership dues and contributions to organizations, P2.4 billion.