By Johlan F. Prousabar
NAGA CITY — With the 2011 budget currently at its final phase, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad announced last Thursday, Nov. 13, at the Villa Caceres Hotel here his department’s preparation to jump start the drafting of the 2012 budget so as to finish and present it during President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July, next year.
Abad, who visited this city last Thursday for the Area Convention on Association of Local Budget Officers for Luzon, said he will order an early call to draft the 2012 budget immediately after the Senate approves the 2011 budget next month (December).
“We are now on the final stages of the 2011 budget. There will be an early call for the 2012 budget and we see it to be released for the President’s SONA in July,” Abad said.
Abad, however, noted that an earlier release of the 2012 budget will not just be for the President’s SONA but also for the Congress to have enough time to deliberate on it more carefully.
“We observed that the Congress had some time constraints discussing the 2011 budget. An early release will be better giving them extra month to deliberate,” Abad stated.
Aside from an early release, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is also planning to do away with the usual centralized drafting of the country’s annual budget and is preparing to conduct various consultations on different sectors and regions.
“We will encourage sectoral organizations to engage with authorities in airing their concerns. DBM regional directors will also submit their outputs. The drafting of the next budget will be different from the usual. It will have wider and broader consultations,” Abad promised.
The budget secretary hopes that before the 2011 budget will be signed sooner than later as the Senate had already conducted its own deliberation before the House of Representatives passed it to them.
“In the next Senate meeting, I believe we’ll just see some plenary debates on the budget which will mostly tackle on policies rather than the budget itself. It will not take a while,” he said.
Asked, however, if the P 1.3 trillion 2011 budget which employ the administration’s boasted zero-base budgeting exercise can make sure the eradication of corruption, Abad answered no.
“We don’t guarantee 100 percent that there will be no corruption. What we can guarantee though is that provisions on accountability and transparency have been laid,” he said adding, “I’m appealing to the media, LGUs and our constituents to help us make sure projects are being implemented.”