Palace eyes priority spending for remaining unobligated funds

July 29, 2010 11:34 am 

MANILA, July 29 — Malacanang is considering to spend on high-priority public initiatives the government's remaining P100 billion in unobligated funds.

"Among options being considered is to declare such funds as savings and prioritize these according to new priorities that will be established," said communications group Secretary Herminio 'Sonny' Coloma.

He said Malacanang plans to complement this strategy by increasing government savings when possible.

Initiatives on boosting public health and education can be possibly financed using such funds as Malacanang earlier cited these as ranking high on the administration's agenda.

Coloma noted Malacanang is considering such target spending as the administration is left with only one percent of the P1.5-trillion 2010 budget to freely use for expenditures it plans to undertake monthly this year.

The total remaining unobligated funds account for a mere six percent of this budget, he added.

Coloma assured the administration will observe prudence in public spending as government aims to rationalize and maximize use of its available revenues.

Earlier, Department of Budget and Management Undersecretary Mario Relampagos said prudent spending will help avoid increasing the budget deficit further.

He noted the present administration could have been left with more funds if its predecessor only observed prudent spending during 2010's first semester.

"We have a target spending program for the first semester but by that period's end, we overspent by some P27 billion," he said.

He noted government should not have overspent particularly since it posted then a revenue shortfall of P23 billion.

"Prudence dictates we should calibrate spending against available resources," he said.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the previous administration's lack of fiscal prudence pushed the budget deficit then to P51 billion.

He noted authorities then complied with rules covering public spending but they could have been prudent since revenues government generated at the time were less than targeted.

"They should have slowed down public spending," he said.

Coloma agrees, earlier noting that legal requirements do not solely govern public spending.

"There's also exercise of sound judgment and discretion – abusing this is an aspect of graft," he said. (PNA)

LDV/CJT/mec

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