At least two key agricultural programs now serve as mute witnesses to the bad effects of the Department of Budget and Management’s indiscriminate “For Later Release” tagging.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson bared the DBM withheld the release of funds for the two projects for this year, even if the Department of Agriculture had deemed them important.
“For this year’s current DA budget, this representation proposed a couple of amendments. These are institutional amendments if I may say. We did this upon the request of the DA secretary himself, Sec. William Dar,” he said in his interpellation of the National Irrigation Administration’s 2021 budget Friday night.
He was referring to the National Soil Health Program (P641.180 million), and Agripreneurship Program (P489.666 million).
The DBM, through National Budget Circular 580, tagged their budgets as FLR (For Later Release), effectively cutting off their funding.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, the NIA budget’s sponsor, said they will work that the budget will be released.
“We will work on that. I want to assure Sen. Lacson we will work on this,” Villar said.
“The long and short of it, Mr. President, distinguished sponsor, importante ang dalawang programa sa DA. And I appreciate your effort to follow up the release of the budgets for these two programs,” Lacson replied.
Earlier, Lacson scored the FLR as a virtual impounding by the DBM of congressional initiatives, regardless of whether they are individual insertions or institutional amendments.
In an earlier interview with Senate media, Lacson said the executive department should have just consulted the agencies concerned and asked them how much they may not be able to utilize, and then tag such funds as FLR.