Friday, January 23, 2009

Lump sum budgeting

Lump sum budgeting is a phrase I coined which describes a peculiar kind of making government appropriations.
I have very serious legal issues about lump sum budgeting.
This invites graft and corruption of horrific magnitude.

Lump sum family budgeting

Let’s go back to family budgeting.
For example, in the family budget, the mother lists down one of the expenses as: “food expenses, say P1,000 ”.
But this kind of expense or appropriation is very general.
Mother has to specify what food she is referring to.
She has to list down: Canned goods (P100), vegetables (P100), rice (P500), chicken (P200), pork (P100).
In other words, instead of just listing P1,000 for food expenses, if would be better for mother to “itemize” how the P1,000 food expense would be spent.
So it would be better for mother to “itemize” the family budget, instead of listing a lump-sum expense of “food.”

Lump-sum government budgeting

This should also be followed by government.
Government should not sprinkle the budget with lump-sum appropriations.
Lump-sum appropriations discards transparency.
If you look at the national government budget, or the general appropriations law, you will encounter appropriations like: “P2,000,000,000 for maintenance of roads and bridges.”
We, the people, will not know what are these specific roads and bridges that will be maintained.
Another common lump-sum appropriation in the national budget: P200,000,000 for construction of school buildings.”
We will not know where these school buildings will be constructed, and what type of school buildings will be constructed.

Lump-sum budgeting invites corruption

Lump sum budgeting invites graft and corruption.
There is no transparency.
Everything is in lump sum.
It is very important that the people insist that appropriations must be itemized, and specific in the budget.
We should say no to lump-sum appropriations.
As I said the biggest corruption that is happening in government, starts with the lump-sum appropriations in the budget.
It runs into billions of pesos.
And the favorite department that contains billions of pesos of lump-sum appropriations is the department of public works and highways.
You need proof?
Very easy, just read the chapter of the budget pertaining to DPWH.
Read also the budget for the Department of Education.

Legal issues

I have legal questions on lump-sum budgeting.
The constitution provides:
The constitution provides in Section 25(2) Article VI on the Legislative Department:

(2) No provision or enactment shall be embraced in the general appropriations bill unless it relates specifically to some particular appropriation therein.

I don’t think there is any intendment of the constitution to allow lump sum appropriations.
With lump sum appropriations, the people will never know exactly how and where it is going to be spent.
What we read are motherhood appropriations like “repair and maintenance of national secondary roads”, “construction of classrooms”, “construction of school buildings”.
Lump sum provisions allow so much latitude for executive officials to play with peoples’ money.
The solution is to do away with lump sum appropriations and let the executive department explain in detail their proposed appropriations so every single centavo will be properly accounted for, and monitored.
Until this is done, widespread anomalies running into billions of pesos will hound the government.
Study the budget, and you get to study wholesale graft and corruption.

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