By Billy Begas
House Committee on Ways and Means chairperson and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has filed a budget accountability bill to strengthen the country’s public financial management.
The proposed Budget Modernization Act (House Bill 9214) is among the priority measures of the economic managers of the Duterte administration, according to Salceda.
The bill will clarify the processes and regulations for budget preparation, management, and reporting, and introduces a rule that all congressional proposals that will erode government revenues, such as tax breaks should have an accompanying revenue source replacement.
“The budget process traditionally has three key stages: the budget preparation, the management of the fiscal resources the budget authorizes, and the reporting and evaluation of how the budget was spent. In each stage the ground rules have to be in place to ensure that there is no confusion among all stakeholders and implementers of the budget,” Salceda explained.
Expenditure bills, Salceda said should include a Financial and Budgetary Information Sheet upon filing. It should contain an estimate of the financial and budgetary implications of the proposal for the initial year of implementation.
The bill also institutionalizes medium-term planning, particularly in infrastructure, to ensure that projects that are initiated during one budget year are completion.
Safeguards will also be placed on multi-year contracts to ensure that only contracts that the government can fully meet will be initiated.
Salceda said that Congress determines the budget but many liabilities the government incurs did not pass through Congress.
Public access to information on the budget, and public participation in the budget process are also institutionalized in the proposal.
“There is urgent need for a framework that clarifies the management of public resources, especially in view of the pressures our public resources face during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Salceda added. “We can’t afford to waste public money during this difficult time. We need to manage the budget as well as we could.”