MANILA (Mabuhay) – An administration lawmaker on Thursday filed a bill seeking to authorize the President, the heads of the legislative, the judiciary, and constitutional bodies, to declare savings from their allocations and realign them within their respective offices before the fiscal year ends.
Under House Bill 4770 filed by Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone Thursday, the President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, all heads of constitutional commissions enjoying fiscal autonomy and the Ombudsman will be given the mandate to accelerate disbursement of funds within their respective offices.
The bill defines savings as “available balances or portions thereof of any programmed appropriation in an Appropriations Act free from any obligation or encumbrance arising or declared as such at any time within the current year of appropriation in accordance with this Act.”
The measure seeks to authorize the said officials “to use their respective savings on a quarterly basis or at any time within six months from the time it arises or declared as such within the current year of appropriation.”
Under the proposal, the realignment would be allowed “to augment actual deficiencies in any item of their respective appropriations in accordance with the provisions of the appropriations act for the current year” and in accordance with other conditions set by law.
The President and other high-ranking officials mentioned in the bill will have the authority to declare savings within their respective offices under the following conditions: upon the President’s resort to Section 38, Chapter 5, Book VI of Executive Order No. 292, insofar as the funds affected thereby; on programs, activities, or projects, the implementation of which is restrained by final order of the court; provided that, in case of programs, activities or projects implemented on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, restrained temporarily or indefinitely by order of the court, savings shall arise during such period until lifted; and upon programs, activities or projects which fail to meet their respective quarterly expenditure target based on criteria set in the general appropriations act for the current year.
The General Appropriations Acts from 2011 to 2013, when the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) was implemented, limited the definition of savings to funds that are “still available after the completion, or final discontinuance, or abandonment of the work, activity or purpose for which the appropriation is authorized.”
The practice of declaring savings before the end of the year was one of the acts under DAP which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional because it violated the definition of savings in past appropriation acts.
The measure gives priority to the following in the use of savings:
(a) Payment of compensation, bonus, cash gift, retirement, gratuity, terminal leave benefits, old-age pension of veterans, and other personnel benefits authorized by law;
(b) Payment of those expenditure items authorized in an agency special provision and in other sections of the General Provisions of the current General Appropriations Act;
(c) Payment of obligations incurred in the implementation of new legislative enactments with authorized appropriations taking effect within the current year;
(d) Payment of obligations incurred to address a public contingeny;
(e) Covering a deficit in the appropriations for the offices referred to in this Act; and
(f) The implementation of programs, activities or projects.
The proposed legislation states that savings may arise at any time prior to or during the implementation of a program, activity or project for which a fund is allocated, provided that the law upon which the they are based is repealed or otherwise declared unconstitutional or their implementation is clearly rendered useless or unnecessary by natural or man-made events beyond the control of the implementing agency.
Savings may also arise after the completion of a program, activity or project for which the appropriation is authorized, including programs, activities or projects implemented by phase or in a staggered manner.
In addition, savings may also be accrued from unpaid compensation and related costs pertaining to vacant positions and leaves of absences without pay; or realized from the implementation of measures resulting in improved systems and efficiencies and thus enabled agencies to meet and deliver the required or planned targets, programs and services approved in an appropriations Act or special appropriations provision at a lesser cost. (MNS)