Ping slams DBM plan to ditch amendments in 2021 budget

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    SEN. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson yesterday slammed what he said was a plan of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to reject all congressional initiatives and institutional amendments that will be introduced by Congress in the proposed 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP), or national budget.

    Lacson said highly reliable government insiders informed him about the DBM’s plan to disregard all changes that will be made on the money measure.

    He said his sources told him that the DBM will stick to the Malacañang-drafted NEP in the implementation of the national budget and declare as “for later release (FLR)” budgets which have been amended by Congress.

    “Instead of rendering ‘for later release’ all congressional initiatives without even consulting with the agencies under the executive, it should (instead) ask(ed) the executive offices concerned what part of their budgets they could not be implemented, and render those for later release,” Lacson said during the hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

    Under the law, Malacañang, through the DBM, prepares the NEP, which is submitted to the House of Representatives for review and introduction of amendments before it is forwarded to the Senate for plenary discussions.

    Once the Senate is finished, a bicameral conference committee is created to reconcile disagreeing provisions in the proposed budget. Once the reconciled provisions are ratified in both houses, the money measure is then transmitted to the President for final approval.

    Lacson warned that if the DBM insists on its “FLR” scheme, all efforts of lawmakers in introducing institutional amendments and initiatives on an agency’s budget will all go to waste and there will be no more checks and balances in government spending.

    “But if their mindset is to automatically tag ‘FLR’ anything outside the NEP including congressional initiatives, I don’t think it is healthy,” he added.