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We must address budget irregularities - Angara

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Senator Edgardo J. Angara outlined the Finance Committee's plan to streamline the country's proposed 2011 budget during yesterday's Department of Foreign Affairs budget hearing, noting the imbalances in the current budget proposal and the skewed priorities among government agencies.

"Every single budget hearing that we conduct is part of the overall management of the properties and assets of the government. We see millions of pesos being wasted on unnecessary expenditures while some vital sectors are struggling to make ends meet," he said.

"Right now, we are trying to assess the entire financial capacity of our country. The next step would be to analyze where to channel these funds for the best possible results," he stated.

Angara, vice-chair of the Committee on Finance, has taken part in the marathon of budget hearings at the Senate which began in August.

He mentioned the huge "packets of money all over government" which have been sitting unused for years, uncovered during several different hearings and investigations.

Angara was referring to PhilHealth's idle reserve income of more than a hundred million, which was unearthed during their budget hearing, and the investigation over the unusually large compensation packages for the board members of Government Operated and Controlled Corporations or GOCCs.

"We have discovered trust funds, independent funding and grants unknown to many amounting to over a hundred million. Yet, the government has not been getting the optimum returns in many departments," he explained.

He further stated that they must go over every detail of the budget so that even minor irregularities may be resolved.

"Even the relatively small amounts we have rerouted into other, more deserving recipients while it seems like just a drop in the bucket in terms of the country's finances, they can go a long way especially if we use them for good investments such as research and professional training," Angara stressed.

For instance, he suggested the diversion of funds from the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) into a fund for the training of foreign service officers since "these two agencies might have already outlived their usefulness. They are very well endowed with manpower and assets, but I have never seen a single groundbreaking think piece from these agencies which are supposed to be government's think tank." (COMSTE)




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