PS-DBM is a catastrophe (6)

Past and recent events under its watch have brought to this striving and developing country catastrophic financial disasters.

The Department of Budget and Management is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the national budget with the goal of attaining the national socio-economic plans and objectives. Its general functions include the preparation of the national budget, maintenance of accounting systems essential to the budgetary process, promotion of greater economy and efficiency in the management of government operations, assessment of organizational effectiveness, and review and evaluation of executive proposals having budgetary and organizational implications.

DBM administers the fund releases intended for the local government units, such as, among others, the internal revenue allotment and the calamity fund.

When the irregularities in the PS-DBM hit the front pages of broadsheets, involving amounts by the billion, some people said they overheard local government executives expressing apprehension that the fund loss and misuse might include funds reserved for allotment to local government units.

Keen observers have opined that the moment the appointment of DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman is deliberated on and subjected to screening for confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, most likely the following questions will be asked of her:

Will the law on devolution of basic functions and services from the national to the local governments be fully implemented in 2022? This process will entail a substantial amount of funding.

Will the Mandanas/Garcia ruling be fully implemented in 2022? This will require a huge release of internal revenue allotment to the LGUs.

The management letter of the Commission on Audit on the accounts and operation of the PS-DBM for calendar year 2021 disclosed that analyses and examinations of accounts and transactions of the office showed various accounting errors and omissions that misstated the year-end balances of assets, liabilities, income, expenses and net assets/equity by the billions. The Annual Audit Report of CoA on the accounts and financial transactions of DBM for calendar year 2011 disclosed similar accounting errors and omissions that led to the misstatement of releases of funds and allotments by a trillion.

Was it a mere coincidence, or were they intended that in both cases the DBM exhibited its patent inadequacy in accounting for money and allotment? DBM blundered in the Priority Development Assistance Fund by the billions; in the Disbursement Acceleration Program, also by the same magnitude of amount; now similarly in the PS-DBM.

And yet, one of the general functions of DBM includes the maintenance of accounting systems essential to the budgetary process, promotion of greater economy and efficiency in the management of government operations, assessment of organizational effectiveness, and review and evaluation of executive proposals having budgetary and organizational implications.

But past and recent events under its watch have brought to this striving and developing country catastrophic financial disasters that might prove too burdensome to overcome and too heavy for the nation to move on.

Funds are being released by the DBM regional offices to the LGUs under its jurisdiction through the issuance of funding checks directly to their current account maintained at the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

Balances of the inter-agency task force for the procurement of common use items of P15.705 billion that remained idle for two to more than four years were not returned/refunded to the respective client agencies for eventual remittance to the Bureau of Treasury, thus depriving the government of the use of funds in the implementation of its programs/project, although the management of the PS has agreed to refund/return all unused advances from agencies in compliance with Section 6.7 of CoA Circular 94-013.

As of 31 December 2021, however, PS management has not yet returned the unutilized balance of P15.089 billion.

(To be continued)


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