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September 18, 2008

Lito Banayo of Malaya has an interesting question for Senate President Manny Villar:  why did it take you all of eight days before you made an explanation?

A man whose integrity is being questioned, and who railed and ranted six days about “political motives” a week before, this time meekly reiterated that he has been clean all his life, that every centavo of his fortune was derived from the sweat of his honest labor. That is rather uncharacteristic for one who feels his reputation was maligned, and frontally at that, in front of peers among whom he is primus inter pares.

He should have gone down from the dais, and defended himself, with righteous indignation.

Why indeed? Your integrity is being assailed unjustly, rail to the heavens high, not meekly.

But, now I think I understand why.   MLQ3, in his Inquirer column, offers a former budget secretary’s analysis:

Diokno believes it’s less about actually paying twice as much for the same thing, and more about the President accommodating a budgetary insertion, which actually gives her an additional P200 million to spend as she pleases. That’s because the President has authority over the release of funds, and so, if there are two allocations for the same project, she can authorize the spending of P200 million for the C-5 project (including purchasing the right of way if necessary) and then declare the second allocation as “savings.” (At the same, whoever proposed the redundant budgetary provisions was accommodated, putting the legislator in the President’s debt.)

The “savings” thus freed up can then be spent on whatever the President sees fit, and not just for the lifetime of the present General Appropriations Act (the national budget), but up to a year after that. Capital expenses, says Diokno, have a lifetime of two years, because of the time it takes to get them done, so that what was appropriated for 2008 remains available for spending up to 2010. Very convenient!

There, it makes more sense now.

Read also GMA’s bugeting genius.

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