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Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman on Monday assured the public there will be no underspending this year, as she noted the changes made to ensure better government spending and disbursements.

During the 2024 Philippine Economic Briefing in Pasay City, Pangandaman touted the steps taken by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to avoid another underspending episode, which the country experienced during the first half of last year.

Government underspending was identified as among the factors for the slower 2023 second quarter economic growth.

Pangandaman said the DBM included a provision on early procurement in the General Appropriations Act of 2024, allowing government agencies to bid out their projects ahead of time.

“Agencies can already bid out their projects by the time we issue the National Expenditure Program to Congress. That will give them time to actually bid their projects and by the time we have the General Appropriations Act, they can already award the same,” she said.

Pangandaman said government agencies have allocated funding for digitalization, which will increase efficiency in government spending and program implementation.

She said the DBM has already released over 80 percent of the 2024 budget to government agencies as early as January.

“In fact, in January of this year, we already released more than 80 percent of the budget. We expect that by now, all or most of the projects are already bided out and ready for implementation,” she added.


Gov’t rightsizing

In the same forum, Pangandaman said the agency will once again push for the passage into law of the National Government Rightsizing Program.

“We will again still push for the rightsizing of the bureaucracy. It has been part of the Legislative Agenda and we hope that when Congress returns this July, it will be part of their calendar,” she said.

The DBM has been pushing for the passage of the measure since the start of the Marcos administration, saying that will help upgrade the government’s institutional capacity to perform its mandate while ensuring optimal and efficient use of resources.

The bill was approved on final reading by the House of Representatives on March 14, 2023, while the administration’s version of the bill was sponsored by Senator Joel Villanueva on Dec. 5, 2023. (PNA)