The P25 billion in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) included in the proposed P2.268-trillion budget for 2014 will undergo strict scrutiny as budget deliberations start this week, Sen. Francis Escudero said yesterday.
Although President Aquino has declared the abolition of the PDAF, Escudero explained the President was apparently referring to the forgoing of lump sum appropriations under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) but not the entire pork barrel allocations.
Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, believes the lawmakers’ allocation would be made into a line-item budget if the PDAF is retained in the 2014 budget.
As part of the reforms, Escudero said he also wants to determine the responsibility and accountability of agencies and lawmakers in the disbursement of the PDAF.
The Senate finance committee is currently studying the possibility of putting the use of PDAF funds for pre- and post audit.
As such the Commission on Audit (COA) should be furnished with the notice of special allotment release orders (SARO) issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) every time allocations are released to concerned agencies.
Apart from Escudero, Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara also recommended to limit the menu of projects coming from the executive department.
Angara said strict monitoring should be made to ensure that PDAF allocations go to actual beneficiaries.
During budget hearings, Escudero said he wanted the resident auditors of the various agencies to appear so that the COA can also confront the heads of various departments over their action on results of the audits.
With a majority of the senators supporting a resolution to abolish the PDAF, Escudero believes the resolution will soon be put to a vote.
Once a majority of the Senate adopts the resolution, then the senators will be forgoing the pork barrel.
The Senate gets a P4.8-billion share of about P25 billion of lawmakers’ pork barrel under the budget. There are 24 senators at the Senate who get an annual P200 million each as allocation for PDAF. Each congressman gets P70 million in pork barrel funds every year.
Escudero sees three possibilities on how the PDAF will be tackled once Congress works to review the proposed P2.268-trillion budget for 2014.
They can first, re-allocate the senators and congressmen’s PDAF; second, drop the P25 billion in PDAF in the total P2.268-trillion budget and third, to impose stricter ways to disburse the funds through line-item budgeting.