Itemized funds

FOR the first time, Congress will be having another book containing itemized allocations of government projects and programs.

This is according to House Committee on Appropriations chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. who said that they have to do this in the interest of transparency and accountability.

“The new book, which is part of the budget reforms initiated by the current House leadership, contains the list of itemized allocation for programs and projects under the 2019 GAB,” Andaya said in a statement.

Andaya stressed that this is the first time that the General Appropriations Act, once signed into law by the President, is made up of four volumes of budget books.

He said the House leadership has moved for the itemization of the budget for specific programs and projects in compliance with the latest Supreme Court’s decision on the pork barrel issue.

The House leader said that records of the bicameral deliberations on the national budget would show that the fourth book was a condition put forward by the House of Representatives during the initial stage of the bicam conference and accepted by the Senate contingent.

The Supreme Court decision from 2013 has specifically instructed lawmakers to adopt a detailed line-item budgeting for the full appreciation of the President.

“We agree with the High Court’s decision as line-item budgeting clearly spells out the specific projects to be given allocation and where these projects shall be located,” he said.

He pointed out that line-item budgeting is the response to the people’s demand for transparency and accountability in the national budget.

Bucking lump-sum, Andaya said these funds are more prone to corruption and violate many tenets of transparent expenditure of public funds. It is for this reason that the Supreme Court had declared discretionary lump sum funds unconstitutional.

“To quote former Justice Antonio Carpio in his concurring opinion: ‘Congress has the constitutional duty to present to the President a General Appropriations Act (GAA) containing items, instead of lump-sums, stating in detail the specific purpose for each amount of appropriation, precisely to enable the President to exercise his line-item veto power. Otherwise, the President’s line-item veto power is negated by Congress in violation of the Constitution’,” Andaya said. 

The Supreme Court also maintained that “it is crucial that each percentage or value must be allocated for its own corresponding purpose for such component to be considered as a proper line-item.”    

The line-item budgeting approach is adopted in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill.

“Once the President signs the 2019 General Appropriations Act, the fourth budget book with itemized allocation for programs and projects will be out in the open,” Andaya said.