By Shah Balaw-ing

The Regional Development Council (RDC) appealed to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad on the agency central office (ACO) budget process and on restoring the ACO-RDC consultations.

It is observed that ACO priority programs and projects which the DBM funds are often listed before RDC consultations are undertaken. The budget allocation criteria of some ACOs moreover do not consider the uniqueness of a mountainous region, placing CAR at a disadvantage, said DBM CAR Director Liza Fangsilat.

The RDC hence urged that ACO-RDC dialogues be restored and that the budget calendar be revised to provide for RDC consultation prior to the consolidation of budget of the ACOs.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said ACO-RDC dialogues are very essential as these give the RDC the opportunity to influence the central offices to include the high priority programs and projects that are suitable to the region.

In response, Sec. Abad said that there are budget reforms that the DBM is doing where the RDC can be involved. Aside from the budget call which defines the budget framework, the economic and fiscal targets, Sec. Abad said that the DBM will also start a planning call. The DBM secretary promised that he will convene a meeting with the NEDA secretary and RDC chairmen to discuss the budget framework.

The budget process will also be advanced, said Abad. “As we are executing this year’s budget, we are negotiating for next year’s budget and planning for the next year’s projects”, he said. This is to ensure that projects will move fast and that the money will go where it should be going, added Abad.

Sec. Abad challenged the region to already prepare its infrastructure plan, irrigation plan, among others so that these could be readily funded. It is important that when a project gets funded, it should be used for the same year its funds are released to fast-track implementation.

Sec. Abad also clarified that the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) isbeing used to support fast-moving projects that directly support the President Aquino’s Social Contract with the Filipino People.

Responding to allegations of DAP funds being misused, Sec. Abad said the administration keenly used DAP according to its design.