ARROYO  ADMIN  MULLS  3-YEAR  BUDGET  PLAN

MANILA, October 4, 2004 (STAR) By Des Ferriols - The Arroyo administration is considering the possibility of shifting to a three-year budget planning strategy to avoid the annual pressure of enacting the general appropriations act.

The proposal is being studied by the Department of Budget Management (DBM) as the government faced the possibility of yet another re-enacted budget for 2005.

Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin told reporters over the weekend that re-enacting the 2003 budget yet again would create even more suspicion and the spending program would be completely unresponsive to governmentís requirements.

"I donít want another re-enacted budget, it only creates suspicions and I donít like that," Boncodin said.

Boncodin said the efficient solution was to draw up a three-year budget with enough flexibility that would allow the government to plan over a longer period instead the shortsightedness of annual budget planning.

According to Boncodin, the executive department could draw up a three-year program accompanied by a three-year budget that Congress would have to deliberate on only once every three years instead of every year.

"For me, this is a more efficient and productive approach," Boncodin said. "This way, we only need to sit down once every three years to talk and argue over the national budget and we reduce the possibility of being forced to use a re-enacted."

Boncodin and the rest of the Arroyo administration has had to operate within a re-enacted budget in 2004 because Congress failed to pass the 2004 General Appropriations Act (GAA) on time.

According to Boncodin, three-year budgeting would not make much difference in terms of government programming since much of the annual budget are fixed anyway.

"You donít really have much room for flexibility there anyway," Boncodin said. "The interest payments we have to make every year is a known quantity and therefore easily predictable. The rest is just salaries of government employees."

Boncodin pointed out that other countries do the same thing instead of engaging in the annual debate over the national budget. She said auditing and reporting would be conducted annually as usual but budget allocations could be done every three years.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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