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Aquino ally files bill allowing declaration of savings before yearend

Posted On 2014 Aug 02
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President Benigno S. Aquino III, assisted by SACASOL’s chairman Jose Maria “Jomari” Zabaleta and president Jose Maria “Sech” Zabaleta, Jr., leads the Ceremonial Switch-on of the San Carlos Solar Energy, Inc. (SACASOL) Phase I during the Inauguration Ceremony at the San Carlos Ecozone in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on Thursday (May 15, 2014).

President Benigno S. Aquino III, assisted by SACASOL’s chairman Jose Maria “Jomari” Zabaleta and president Jose Maria “Sech” Zabaleta, Jr., leads the Ceremonial Switch-on of the San Carlos Solar Energy, Inc. (SACASOL) Phase I during the Inauguration Ceremony at the San Carlos Ecozone in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental on Thursday (May 15, 2014).

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.

Conditions

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.

Priorities

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)

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