MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 3, 14) – After trumpeting government projects funded by the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, President Benigno Aquino now is eyeing to borrow money from local and international creditors to offset the P283.7 billion deficit of the recently submitted P2.6 trillion 2015 national budget, according to Senior Deputy Minority Leader, Rep. Neri Colmenares.
Colmenares said the figure is an approximation of the 2% of the projected Gross Domestic Product of the Philippines for 2014.
“This is a very huge amount and it would further mire us in debt. As we learned from experience, the Disbursement Acceleration Program was at least P144 billion, which the Aquino government said were funds that the agencies were not able to spend and should be called savings. But if that is so, then why do we have to borrow money plus interest. To claim so many saving while borrowing hundreds of billions is terribly wrong,” he said.
“The allocation of scarce resources should be efficient. If the budget of the Department of Transportation and Communication gets bloated by P14 billion this means that there were fewer funds for health and education. If in the end, the DOTC is incapable of implementing its projects, this is P14 billion which could have been used in hospitals and building classrooms. This is very absurd and we oppose this kind of budgeting especially if it is accompanied by a budget deficit which will be funded by more loans. Sabi nila madami tayong savings tapos ngayon mangungutang pa sila,” he added.
The Supreme Court has ruled the Disbursement Acceleration Program as illegal and unconstitutional, but Aquino insisted the program is legal and benefited many Filipinos and many times took a swipe at the decision in public talk.
Aquino approved the Disbursement Acceleration Program in 2011 on the recommendation of the Development Budget Coordination Committee and the Cabinet Clusters as a “stimulus package” by the government for the projects.
From 2011 to 2012, Disbursement Acceleration Program funding reached P142.23 billion - P83.53 billion in 2011 and P58.70 billion in 2012 – and most of the funds went to healthcare, public works, housing and resettlement,agriculture, tourism, road infrastructure, school infrastructure, rehabilitation and extension of light rail transit systems, and electrification project in the villages.
Last year, some P15.13 billion in DAP funds were also released by Abad and these went to the police and redevelopment of the Roxas Boulevard in Manila and other rehabilitation projects in areas affected by typhoons.
“The Aquino administration should know that deficit spending is not a good practice because it increases that debt of the country and it also binds us to the economic policy conditionalities of the lending institutions and countries. These conditionalities like those coming from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the World Trade Organization open up our economy to foreign interests and ensure their profits while at the same time killing our local industries and pushes more of our countrymen to poverty,” Colmenares said.