GOVERNMENT agencies improved their budget utilization to 74% in January, as measured by an indicator known as the Notice of Cash Allocations (NCAs), up from 60% a year earlier, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.

The Budget department said agencies used a total of P145.576 billion during the month out of the P197.28 billion worth of NCAs released during that period.

NCAs represent an approval from the DBM to disburse funds allocated to them. A high utilization rate indicates effective spending on their various programs and projects.

Line departments posted an overall utilization rate of 66%, using P90.414 billion out of P136.38 billion in NCAs during the period.

The utilization rate for all other NCAs was 91%, with P55.16 billion used out of the P60.898 billion programmed.

The agencies that recorded 100% usage rates are the Office of the President and the Department of Energy at P492.61 million and P88.42 million, respectively.

Other agencies with high cash utilization rates were Congress (91%), the joint Legislative-Executive councils (91%), the Departent of Tourism (89%), the Department of Justice (88%) and the Department of Health (88%).

The Department of Education received the highest NCA releases last month but used P23.33 billion of its P34.58-billion budget, for a 67% utilization rate.

The Department of Public Works and Highways received the second-largest releases at P26.508 billion, but only used P11.804 billion.

Budgetary support to government owned- and controlled-corporations and allotments to local government units were used at rates of 94% and 91% respectively. — Beatrice M. Laforga