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P19.73-B DOF budget for 2018 endorsed for House approval

The Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives has endorsed for congressional approval the P19.73-billion budget of the Department of Finance (DOF) for 2018, which decreased 16 percent from this fiscal year, setting an example for other government to utilize their respective allocations efficiently.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the 2018 budget of the DOF and its attached agencies dropped by P3.5 billion from 2017 because majority of the investment outlays, and property, plant and equipment were already provided through this year's budget.

The DOF voluntarily submitted a lower budget for 2018 compared to the preceding year to set an example for other departments to operate efficiently, Dominguez said.

Along with reductions in the capital outlays of other DOF-attached agencies, this 2018 budget cut for the DOF, which has a P21.30 billion outlay this year, was also largely the result of the significant decline in the allocation for the Bureau of Treasury (BTr), whose P6.46 billion budget for 2017 went down to P4.36 billion for 2018, or a P2.10 billion drop.

For 2017, the BTr's allocation represented a 288 percent hike from the previous year owing to its capital subscriptions to foreign financial institutions, including the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank.

The period of interpellation for the DOF's proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 was terminated Monday afternoon after just about two hours of deliberations. The House is currently holding plenary debates on House Bill 6215 or the 2018 General Appropriations Bill, which proposes a national budget of P3.767 trillion for the next fiscal year.

Of the P19.7 billion proposed DOF budget for the next fiscal year, P17.97 billion comprise new general appropriations, while P1.75 billion represent automatic appropriations, of which P602 million is set aside for retirement and life insurance premiums, and P1.152 billion will go to the Special Accounts in the General Fund for several programs under the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Insurance Commission (IC).

While there is a slight reduction in the DOF budget, the Department will continue to expand its programs, projects and services�particularly the BIR's Revenue Administration Program, which comprises 79 percent of its budget; the BTr's Financial Asset Management Program, which also comprises 79 percent of its budget; and the BOC's Customs Revenue Enhancement Program, which comprises 38 percent of its total budget, said Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, who is a vice chairperson of the House appropriations committee.

Villafuerte sponsored the DOF's 2018 budget during the floor deliberations on second reading of the proposed 2018 General Appropriations Act.

For the Office of the Secretary, its allocation also decreased from P1.62 billion in 2017 to P1.38 billion in 2018.

The allocations in 2018 for other DOF-attached agencies also declined.

These include the BOC, from P3.82 billion in 2017 to P3.11 billion in 2018; BIR, from P8.57 billion to P8.04 billion; IC, from P7 million to P6 million; Securities and Exchange Commission, from P646.86 million to P629.87 million; and Central Board of Assessment Appeals, from P19.11 million to P18.63 million.

The budget of the Privatization Management Office went up by P21.79 million from P54.23 million in 2017 to P76.01 million in 2018, along with the Bureau of Local Government Finance from P263.10 million to P305.13 million, and the National Tax Research Center from P51.20 million to P57.43 million.

According to the DOF, the BIR's allocation for personnel services next year will rise by P173 million from P4.22 billion this year to P4.39 billion as a result of the increase in the number of filled-up positions from 9,330 this year to 10,044 for 2018, and the increase in salaries under the third tranche of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL).

Maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) will get P3.36 billion in 2018, while financial expenses will account for P122.20 billion and capital outlays, P168.25 billion.

For the BOC, allocation for personnel services will go down from P1.42 billion this year to P1.33 billion in 2018. The BOC allocation for MOOE also dropped to P822.64 million from P976.52 million, along with its budget for capital outlays, which is P949.11 million for 2018, down from P1.43 billion in 2017.

The BOC's 2018 budget will be used to further intensify and strengthen its anti-smuggling operations and capabilities through the acquisition of additional x-ray machines, firearms and other tactical equipment and enhancement of cybersecurity to all ports for better revenue collection, Villafuerte said.

The BTr's allocation for personnel services increased from P435.22 million in 2017 to P498.05 million in 2018, but its capital outlays dropped from P4.83 billion to P2.76 billion, along with its allocations for MOOE, and financial expenses.

In the Office of the Secretary, the allocation for personnel services went down from P316.27 million in 2017 to P301.72 million in 2018, along with its MOOE (P773.47 million to P400.62 million). But capital outlays increased from P526.92 million to P677.85 million largely because of the allocation for the foreign-assisted projects of the Municipal Development Fund Office (MDFO), which is under the DOF.

The SEC's budget for personnel services (P344.66 million) and MOOE (P285.21 million) rose in 2018 but it has no capital outlay for next year.

The allocations for the PMO, BLGF, NTRC, CBAA and the IC totaling P457.21 million represent only 2.54 percent of the total budget of the DOF for 2018.

The implementation of the third tranche of the SSL accounts for the increase in the allocations for personnel services of the PMO, BLGF and NTRC.

Source: Department of Finance

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