Lacson Pushes Use of Gov’t Savings, Untapped Funds in P12-B Fund for ‘Ondoy,’ ‘Pepeng’ Victims

So as not to further bloat the country’s P230-billion budget deficit as of October 2009, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson has suggested that a P12-billion fund for victims of “Ondoy,” “Pepeng” and similar recent calamities be sourced from government savings and other untapped fund sources. 

Lacson said the savings and unused funds may include the P200-million double entry for a stretch of the C-5 Road linking Sucat, Parañaque in southern Metro Manila to the South Luzon Expressway.

The P200-million “redundant appropriation,” which was the subject of a Senate ethics investigation, was included in the 2008 budget.

“From unreleased appropriations, I remember in 2008 there was a redundant P200 million, we can tap the P200 million. The life span of the budget is two years, so there’s P200 million in the 2008 budget. It is carried over to 2009, so right there we can get P200 million and probably we can locate other sources of other appropriations in the 2009 budget,” he said in his interpellation of the resolution for the P12-billion fund Tuesday evening.

“I am concerned we will further bloat this budget deficit,” he added.

He suggested other untapped fund sources may include the Motor Vehicle Users’ Charge (MVUC), as well as from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor). “We will not get money from national treasury. The MVUC proceeds don’t form part of the national budget and so is Pagcor,” he said.

Senate finance committee chairman Edgardo Angara earlier noted the bulk of the P12-billion fund would come from proceeds of the operation of the Malampaya natural gas facility.

On the other hand, Lacson said getting most of the funds from earnings in the operation of the Malampaya facilities will increase the budget deficit.

He noted the government relies on tax revenues and earnings from government-owned and controlled corporations or sale of assets, which go to the national treasury and form part of total revenue.

“If we deduct P12 billion for purposes of appropriating some funds for the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Public Works and Highways and so forth, it will increase the projected budget deficit. Somehow it has some effect on the budget deficit,” he said.

On the other hand, he said that if government does not appropriate the P12 billion, there will be an additional P12 billion in the treasury.

“If we borrow P230 billion assuming the budget deficit is pegged at P230 billion till yearend (we will need to) just borrow P218 billion,” he said.