Palace downplays allegations public funds spent on campaign

By , on May 17, 2016

The Malacañang Palace (Facebook photo)
The Malacañang Palace (Facebook photo)

MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday downplayed accusations that the Aquino government spent public money on presidential campaign and would leave the incoming administration with limited resources for its priority programs.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. stressed that these allegations were “untrue and without factual basis.”

“The Aquino administration has always adhered to the principles of sound fiscal management in handling the people’s funds and shall pass on to the incoming administration a robust, liquid and financially stable national coffers,” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Coloma said the allegations only reflected a lack of knowledge and understanding on how the National Budget was actually spent.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced that it has already released about Php2.5 trillion to government agencies, representing 83.5 percent of the total Php3.002-trillion national budget for 2016, as embodied in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Coloma explained that in the national budgeting process, the word “release” simply means “authority to obligate.”

“It does not equate to disbursements or actual spending as the funds still need to be obligated first before these can be disbursed by the government agencies,” he said.

The PCOO chief said that after the budget was released, the concerned government agency must submit and secure approval for a work and financial plan from the DBM and this served as the basis for obligating certain amounts for specific projects.

Coloma said once these projects had been deemed obligated, the agency would secure Notices of Cash Allocation (NCAs) from the DBM, which they would present to the Bureau of Treasury to obtain checks.

“While it is true that releases have reached more than Php2 trillion, total funds obligated and covered by NCAs or Notices of Cash Allocation reached only Php464.33 billion as of the first quarter of the year. Out of this amount, Php411.4 billion was utilized to get checks from the Treasury while the remaining Php53 billion is still with the agencies,” he said.