Excess revenue from GOCC collection­s possible source of aid, DBM exec says

- By Bernadette D. Nicolas @Bnicolasbm

THE government may tap its excess revenues from its collection­s from state-run firms this year for additional cash aid in Metro Manila should the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) be extended beyond two weeks, the Department of Budget and Management said.

Budget Undersecre­tary and Officer in Charge Tina Canda said they have already exhausted the available funds under the 2020 national budget from the identified savings of government agencies. This yielded the government P13.1 billion to be used for cash aid to over 10 million residents in Metro Manila.

“Inubos muna namin ’yung 2020 na available pero pwede naman nating tignan kung sa 2021 meron na, kasi unang una, nakita namin na mukhang magkakaroo­n ng excess revenues ang BTR (Bureau of Treasury) from collection­s from government corporatio­n or from other sources so that’s an available fund [now]. In the event na ma-extend ito ay talagang hahanap at hahanap tayo ng pondo dito [this is extended, we will have to look for funds],” Canda said in an interview with Teleradyo.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III also said the government so far has P12 billion in excess revenues this year from dividends collected from government-owned and -controlled corporatio­ns (GOCCS).

“We were informed that the amount required is about P12 billion and we have indicated that we have sufficient excess revenue to cover this,” Dominguez told reporters in a message also on Wednesday.

In the meantime, Canda said they hope to release to the Department of Social Welfare and Developmen­t (DSWD) the funds needed for the cash aid to Metro Manila either Wednesday, Thursday or on Friday.

To cushion the impact of the reimpositi­on of ECQ, each entitled individual in Metro Manila will get P1,000 or a maximum of P4,000 per household.

“The requiremen­t for NCR (National Capital Region), if I’m not mistaken, is P10.89 billion. And we estimated that within this week we can release that fund, and the DSWD can download it in turn to local government units for payout to beneficiar­ies,” Canda said, partly in Filipino.

Malacañang earlier said the excess P2.4 billion in funds for the cash aid will serve as a “contingenc­y budget” of the government in case it needs to give assistance to people not included in its initial target number of beneficiar­ies.

On the labor department’s plan to request an additional P2 billion to provide more cash aid for workers who will be displaced during ECQ in Metro Manila, Canda suggested that the DOLE use first whatever remaining balances they have.

“Our rule is that you use first what you have. You maximize, so we’ll have to refer to the financial statements of DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment). If that fund is still big, even if they request for P2 billion the DBM will surely tell them to first make use of the funds with them,” she said.

Should DOLE’S funds be insufficie­nt, Canda said the DBM would augment it subject to the approval of the President. She added, “but in the absence of any informatio­n at this point, maybe DOLE can use their existing funds first.”

Canda pointed out that DOLE must also consider that some workers displaced during ECQ in Metro Manila may also receive the cash aid from DSWD through the local government units.

“We have to be very careful to ensure there is no double payment because that’s the hard part here— we might get many complaints later asking why so and so got double but they didn’t get anything,” she said.

2022 budget

DESPITE Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado’s medical leave, Canda expressed confidence they will be able to submit the P5.024-trillion 2022 National Expenditur­e Program to Congress on time.

Canda said they target submission on August 23, days ahead of their August 25 deadline.

Under the Constituti­on, the executive branch has 30 days from the opening of the regular session of Congress to make the submission to lawmakers.

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