Lacson: Keeping Next National Budgets Fat-Free is Crucial

Keeping the national budgets for the coming years fat-free will be crucial in helping the country recover from the effects of the pandemic.

On this note, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson voiced his support for the National Economic and Development Authority’s fiscal consolidation plan for the next President.

“Thank you NEDA. This is what I’ve always been saying during budget deliberations. With a yearly average of P328B UNUSED appropriations for the past 10 years (2010-2020) and P700B in MISUSED/ABUSED budget each year, there couldn’t be a better advice,” Lacson, who is running for President under Partido Reporma, said on his Twitter account Friday.

Related: Ping: ‘Fat-Free’ Na Badyet, Mahalaga sa Pagbangon Mula sa Pandemya

He was referring to the lack of proper planning that led to an average of P328 billion in appropriations in the budget going unused every year from 2010 to 2020 – and corruption that led to the loss of some P700 billion a year, quoting a statement from former Deputy Ombudsman Cyril Ramos.

The NEDA is now crafting the plan to repay the country’s ballooning debt and narrow the budget deficit caused by the pandemic. Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon was quoted in reports as saying the plan will include proposed cuts on non-priority budget items.

During his 18 years as senator, Lacson earned a reputation as an eagle-eyed watchdog of the national budget, flagging questionable appropriations and pushing to have them deleted from the budget measure.

Lacson, who is running with vice presidential bet Senate President Vicente Sotto III under a platform of fixing the government’s woes (Aayusin ang Gobyerno, Aayusin ang Buhay ng Bawat Pilipino) and going after thieves in government (Uubusin ang Magnanakaw), has said that should he be elected into office this May, he will introduce much-needed reforms to the preparation and implementation of the budget, which he described as the lifeblood of the nation.

These reforms include, among others, a zero-based budgeting system instead of a budget ceiling; and a combination of strict fiscal discipline and leadership by example.