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DBM preparing 2012 budget early; education, health top list of priorities - Abad

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The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it is preparing the proposed national budget for 2012 ahead of time for submission to Congress a day after President Benigno S. Aquino III's second State-of- the-Nation Address (SONA) on July 25.

Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad made the statement during the Communication and News Exchange (CNEX) Forum at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Central Office along Visayas Ave. in Quezon City on Friday morning.

The forum, a weekly briefing and discussion with government media, is sponsored by the PIA in cooperation with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

Abad said the early "first budget call" to different government agencies is part of efforts to ensure that the bureaucracy is in line with the Aquino government's transparency thrust.

The former Batanes congressman said he is prioritizing six line agencies in the preparation of the 2012 government spending bill.

These are the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Abad, who is also a former Education secretary, said Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) will be consulted for ongoing programs and projects of the six agencies.

He said this is the first time that the DBM is tapping the participation of CSOs and other stakeholders in the budget preparation process for key government agencies.

In the case of DepEd, Abad said they will be needing a huge amount of money for the construction of additional 17,000 classrooms, hiring of more than 15,000 public elementary and secondary school teachers as well as procurement of textbooks and school supplies.

Abad said the additional educational provision is aimed at addressing the perennial shortages of school buildings, classrooms and teachers nationwide every school opening.

“This is the first time that the participatory budget approach is being implemented,” he said, adding that this is being done to promote monitoring of government’s key public services.

Abad said that government agencies must now submit budget proposals that enable the people to inspect each and every detail of how they intend to spend their budget.

"For this reason, we will gradually move away from the often-shadowy practice of lump sum budgeting," Abad said.

"We started the process of preparing the 2012 national budget early. This should give ample time to all departments and agencies to flesh out their proposed budgets into programs and projects to be funded, location of projects and amounts allocated," he added.

Abad explained that the no-lump-sum policy will also allow agencies to measure outcomes of their spending.

The "first budget call" fleshes out the budget preparation framework and process, including the budget preparation calendar.

A "second budget call" to be issued next month will set the indicative budget ceilings and macroeconomic assumptions, the former Batanes lawmaker said.

By Joel C. Atencio - PNA

 




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