GOVT  TO  SPEED  UP  RELEASE  OF  P20-B  FOR  PUMP-PRIMING

MANILA, AUGUST 20, 2006
(STAR) By Rocel C. Felix - The government, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), has cut the procurement process from 154 days to only 45 days to speed up the release of a P20-billion fund for pump-priming activities.

DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said that through an administrative order, the department revised a provision in the Procurement Law or Republic Act 9184 that trimmed the procurement period by more than three months or 109 days, from publication of notice to the actual reward of contracts.

"With the new system we can fasttrack the implementation of fund disbursements," said Andaya.

Before the amendment to RA 9184, a department head has 15 days to approve a contract. This is then forwarded to the DBM Policy Procurement Board for final approval.

"But we don’t need that, either they will approve the contract or they won’t. So we reduced that, but the time period allotted for publication – this is for bidders to go over the contracts – has not been changed," Andaya said.

He said the DBM has to disburse P20 billion this quarter as it anticipates approval of the P46.9-billion supplemental budget the Cabinet has proposed to Congress.

The supplemental budget is in lieu of the absence of a budget because of the failure of Congress to enact this year’s proposed budget, with government now operating on a 2005 re-enacted budget. The DBM also has P34 billion of unprogrammed funds for release.

"We’re at the tail-end of pump-priming (and) we will finish all infrastructure projects within the next three months. We want to speed up all these projects," said Andaya.

The Department of Finance and the DBM are also targeting P191 billion from new taxes, including the expanded value-added tax, this year.

The DBM is currently disbursing at the rate of 97 percent releases as compared to obligations.

From January to July this year, pump-priming expenditures hit P71.23 billion. Of this amount, P12.9 billion was programmed for agriculture, including P3.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the country’s critical national and communal irrigation systems.

This is expected to significantly boost agriculture production as only half of the country’s existing irrigation systems are functional. A bigger share went to public works with P14.9 billion worth of projects.

At the same time, the government paid an estimated P40 billion accounts payables or arrears to all government agencies and departments.

The government has P40 billion worth of payables, which it has been trying to settle to clean up its account dues and declog its payment system. These are payable backlogs not only to the DPWH but other government agencies. The amount is actually a reduction from the P90 billion accounts payable in recent years.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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