There is a marked increase in the 2011 national government (NG) budget submitted to Congress, making the proposed budget alarmingly patronage-rich, says research group IBON.
The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the proposed 2011 budget has increased by Php13.9 billion or 128.5% from Php10.9 billion in 2010 to Php24.8 billion.
According to research head Sonny Africa, “This large pork barrel allocated mainly according to parochial concerns is inconsistent with improving the effectiveness of spending.”
Africa added that similarly, the Php29.2-billion budget for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) – especially its Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program – creates massive opportunities for patronage politics at both the local and national levels.
The research group also noted a vague large lump-sum item for locally-funded projects under the Department of Agriculture (DA). An allocation worth Php5-billion was created for “Public-Private Partnership Support Fund” under the DA Office of the Secretary. According to Africa, “Lump sum funds are prone to corruption. Who decides on how these funds are going to be used?”
IBON earlier noted a large drop in the NG budget for major sectors under economic services and insufficient allocations for social services as alleged steps for austerity. In contrast there are huge increases in proposed spending for other areas such as debt servicing (29.2% increase), armed forces (17.9% increase), and in the PDAF, among others.
According to the research group, these mispriorities in the budget are not consistent with government’s avowed fight against corruption. More importantly, this skewed spending means government retreating from its responsibilities in much-needed areas as well as on its goal of uplifting majority of Filipinos from poverty. (Bulatlat.com)