Palace can't ask for supplemental budget sans new sources of revenues, DBM chief
The Department of Budget and Management DBM) admitted on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte could not ask Congress for a supplemental budget to address the coronavirus disease crisis because the government has no new sources of revenues.
In a virtual press briefing, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said that as of Thursday, his office has released P353.8 billion to various departments and agencies of the government to support their COVID-19-related interventions in accordance with the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.
Under the law, Duterte has been authorized to realign, reallocate and reprogram both the 2019 and 2020 budgets, respectively.
Of the total amount, Avisado said P246 billion came from the pooled savings, P96.7 billion from the unprogrammed appropriation and P10.6 billion from reprogramming of beneficiaries and purpose of existing program, activities and projects.
He said the government's expenses for COVID-19 response could even be higher than the P353.8 billion since other government departments and agencies have also realigned their own allocations for the same purpose.
Asked if the Palace would ask for a supplemental budget from Congress to further fund the COVID-19 response, the Budget chief said, "We have discussed in the economic development cluster and even at the DBCC (Development Budget Coordinating Committee) the possibility of seeking for a supplemental budget."
"As of now, we can't do it because the requirement for a supplemental budget is for us to have new source of revenues or taxes and secondly, if there is excess in our collection - in both cases, there's none. So, there's no basis for our plan to have a supplemental budget."
To further support the COVID-19 response, Avisado said the government has to "sacrifice" some projects.
From January to April this year, the government was only able to collect P963 billion, P33.4 billion or 3.36 percent lower compared to P996.4 billion during the same period last year.
Expenditures during the January to April period was at P1.311 trillion, P311.1 billion or 31.12 percent higher from a year ago level.
The Bureau of Treasury attributed the government's increased spending and drop in revenue collection on the COVID-19 pandemic wherein most businesses have stopped operations due to the lockdown enforced by the administration. Celerina Monte/DMS