DAP-like mechanism persists in proposed 2016 budget

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The proposed 2016 budget includes an apparent attempt to legalize DAP through Section 63 of the 2016 NEP’s general provisions

Despite a Supreme Court decision last year declaring the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional, a mechanism to retain discretionary lump-sum funds persists in the proposed 2016 budget, research group IBON said.

Instituted by Department of Budget Management secretary Florencio Abad, the controversial DAP allowed the President to decide on using funds from discontinued projects or ‘savings’ from completed ones. It has been criticized by groups as another form of pork barrel funds that are spent on the sole discretion of the Executive branch. These also do not undergo congressional deliberation or public scrutiny.

According to IBON, the proposed 2016 budget includes an apparent attempt to legalize DAP through Section 63 of the 2016 NEP’s general provisions. The section defines what counts as savings and can be used elsewhere without undergoing congressional or public scrutiny.

The proposed 2016 budget drops the qualifier “final” in describing discontinued or abandoned projects whose remaining funds can be considered savings. This potentially allows savings to be declared in the middle of the year just as the DAP had authorized.

The 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA), pre-DAP 2014 GAA and previous budgets all had this qualifier “final”. Removing this from the 2016 budget creates the legal basis for the president and budget secretary to use funds at their discretion as they had done using the DAP, IBON warned.

The research group has earlier noted that the proposed national budget submitted by Malacanang still had an increase of Php61.7 billion in special purpose funds (SPFs), which are notorious for having lump-sum amounts. SPFs increased immensely by Php61.7 billion to reach Php430.4 billion in the proposed budget for next year. One of these is the 69% increase in the allocation to local government units, which includes an almost 500% increase in “local government support fund”. (end)

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