MANILA, Aug. 7— Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Monday described government underspending as a “major flaw” that is delaying several projects, particularly in infrastructure, from being completed.
“The government is not implementing the budget fast enough, we need better budget reforms,” Diokno told the Senate Committee on Finance during the first hearing on the proposed 2018 national budget of PH 3.767 trillion.
This amount is 12.4 percent higher than the PHP3.35 trillion budget for 2017 and represents 21.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Diokno said that although underspending has improved over the years, it is still happening.
He said that in 2016, budget underspending reached PHP96.3 billion or 3.6 percent of the budget.
Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that it is “imperative” that the country’s legal framework on public financial management framework should be “revised and updated.”
This way, she said it would ensure efficient budget execution, financial management and to limit Executive discretion in budget implementation.
Moreover, she said that it is also imperative that Congress ensures that existing policies on public financial management are fiscally responsible, transparent and involve people’s participation.
On July 24, President Rodrigo Duterte submitted to Congress the proposed 2018 national budget.
The Department of Budget and Management earlier said that the proposed budget prioritizes education and infrastructure development, particularly for the government’s infrastructure program, “Build, Build, Build”, and the provision of social services to the people.