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Oct 29th
Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Malacañang Urged to Explain Delay in the 2008 National Budget
Malacañang Urged to Explain Delay in the 2008 National Budget PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Saturday, 08 March 2008 17:06
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today asked Malacañang to explain why the P1.127-trillion national budget for fiscal year 2008 has not been signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo up to now, resulting in the continued reliance on the reenacted 2007 national budget to finance government operations.

Senator Pimentel expressed dismay that the budget bill remains unsigned by the President more than a month after the Senate and House of Representatives approved the final version of the bill on January 28.

He said it is unconscionable to see the final approval of the appropriations measure being unduly delayed despite the fact that the Senate exerted extra efforts to pass the bill before the Christmas break last year after it was approved by the House of Representatives.

Mr. Pimentel said the Palace should have acted with dispatch and urgency in expediting final approval and implementation of the 2008 budget to foreclose the need for a reenacted budget of the previous year which carries with it a lot of disadvantages.

“I am afraid that the delay in the signing of the 2008 national budget is intentional on the part of Malacañang. By doing so, they are free to spend taxpayers’ money at their own discretion and without the restrictions imposed by the new appropriations act,” he said.

He lamented that the government has fallen back on a reenacted budget for several consecutive years now because the approval of the new budget has always been delayed.

Senator Pimentel said that every time the approval of the new budget is delayed, it is the people that ultimately suffer because funds for new projects, like classrooms, farm-to-market roads and municipal ports cannot be released, resulting in the delay of the construction of these public works projects.

Mr. Pimentel explained that when the previous year’s budget is automatically reenacted, the funds for projects that are already completed are reallocated and treated as savings.

He said these supposed savings can be easily realigned by the President to projects that will advance her partisan political interest or those that will catch her fancy without any constraints.

“My suspicion is that Malacañang is taking advantage of the situation so that they can use the reenacted funds for purposes that will suit their political agenda. They know that it would be difficult to juggle funds once the 2008 national budget takes effect. Public funds should be spent only for new projects and specific purposes for which they were allocated,” the minority leader said.

Senator Pimentel also expressed the hope the President will not veto certain provisions inserted by Congress to strengthen safeguards against misuse of funds or unauthorized realignment of funds. # # #

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