THE national government posted a budget utilization rate of 60% in January, well above the year-earlier rate of 33%, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.
A total of P127 billion out of the P211.9 billion authorized for January was spent last month, leaving some P84.9 billion unspent.
The usage rate is based on the Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) — a disbursement authority issued by the DBM to government agencies, allowing them to withdraw funds from the Bureau of the Treasury to settle their spending requirements in contracted projects.
However, the NCA releases in January were “significantly lower” compared with the P405.4 billion from a year earlier, with the government operating under a reenacted budget.
“We had to calibrate NCA releases considering the 2019 budget had yet to be passed in January 2019,” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno was quoted as saying in the statement.
The 2019 General Appropriations Act has yet to be signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, after both chambers of Congress ratified the budget on Feb. 8. The budget was delayed following the criticism of the shift to a cash-based system and illegal “insertions” that favored certain districts.
Joint legislative-executive councils as well as funds provided to government-owned and -controlled corporations logged a 100% utilization ratio in the first month, while the Office of the President had a utilization rate of 99%.
Government allotments to local government units used only P96.7 million out of the P38.87 billion that month, for a utilization rate of 2.5%.
In January, P172.2 billion of NCA releases went to line departments.
“The higher NCA utilization ratio means agencies are quicker on their feet in implementing programs and projects in the first month of the year,” Mr. Diokno said, adding that the utilization rates are expected to pick up in the coming months considering NCAs lapse at the end of every quarter.
The government started to implement the annual cash-based budgeting scheme this year, from the previous two-year obligation-based system.
With the new appropriation scheme, inspection, verification, actual payment and delivery of goods and services must come within the fiscal year the budget was proposed for, providing an incentive for on-time implementation of state programs and projects.
“As we anticipate the passage into law of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the DBM is devising a catch-up plan in the release and utilization of funds,” Mr. Diokno said.
“In coordination with implementing agencies, we will cover all bases from allotment releases, NCA releases, to NCA utilization and disbursement plans.” — Karl Angelo N. Vidal