Palace maintains rash public spending is anomalous

July 29, 2010 11:34 am 

MANILA, July 29 — Malacanang defended its stand against public spending during the incumbency of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III's predecessor, maintaining lack of prudence still made fund use then anomalous.

Communications group Sec. Herminio 'Sonny' Coloma raised this point, noting legal limits alone don't govern public spending.

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

Coloma clarified the matter as critics panned Malacanang for charging that irregularity tainted public spending during the administration of Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President Aquino's predecessor.

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26 this year, President Aquino reported only about P100 billion in unobligated funds or six percent of government's P1.5 trillion 2010 national budget remains for his administration to spend freely during the remaining months of this year.

Such means only around one percent of the budget is still free for expenditures the administration decides to undertake monthly this year, Coloma noted.

Mrs. Arroyo's camp denies she left her successor with near-empty coffers.

They maintain that public spending during her incumbency was above-board since the administration then followed government rules on budget use.

Malacanang is unconvinced that such rules alone justified the kind of spending then.

"The matter can be seen from different perspectives but we can't deny the fact that there's very little money left," Coloma said.

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) acknowledged public spending during Mrs. Arroyo's administration was in accordance with government rules.

DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos earlier said the Aquino administration could have been left with more funds if government only observed prudent spending during 2010's first semester, however.

"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 shouldn't have overspent particularly since it posted then a revenue shortfall of P23 billion.

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

V3/CJT/mec

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