Focusing on the theme “Institutions, Politics and Human Development in the Philippines”, the 2008/2009 Philippine Human Development Report (PHDR) that was launched today says that weak congressional oversight on Official Development Assistance (ODA) transactions, in particular, and on overall spending by the executive, in general, facilitates corruption.
Loopholes in the current budget law give the Executive, and not Congress, the “power of the purse”, according to the report. It adds that the President can override congressional budget mandates in a number of ways, such as by not releasing or delaying the release of authorized appropriations and by using “savings” and other unprogrammed, discretionary, or confidential funds at will.
The PHDR mentions overwhelming amounts with savings between ranging from P11.4 billion in 2004 to P117.5 billion in 2007. Lump sums in the 2009 National Expenditure Program (NEP)—defined as one-liner appropriations amounting to P100 million or more—amounted to P224 billion, or 16 percent of the proposed national budget. Confidential and intelligence funds amount to another P1.12 billion. Presidents can and have restored programs scrapped by Congress by using “savings,” lump sums, or contingency funds.
The report points out that Congress plays a significant part in undermining its own powers. It says that when Congress fails to pass the national budget, the previous year’s budget is automatically reenacted. But there are larger-than-average savings when a budget is reenacted because of money reserved for previous year’s projects that might have been completed since.
Thus, according to the report, the reenactment of a budget even strengthens the President’s control over allocations owing to larger savings that can be disbursed at his or her discretion. There have been three fully reenacted budgets since 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006.
ABOUT THIS REPORT: The 2008/09 PHDR is the 6th in a series of national human development reports (NHDRs) that have advocated the use of concepts and indicators of human development as a counterpoint to traditional measures like per capita income in development policy-making and practice. The first Philippine HDR came out in 1994 with the theme, “Human Development and People’s Participation in Governance”. Since this maiden issue, the human development framework has been applied to specific themes such as Gender (1997), Education (2000), Employment (2002) and Peace and Human Security (2005) gaining for the report a reputation of factually based, insightful and well-written analyses not just in the Philippines but also in the community of nations.
ABOUT THE HDN: The Human Development Network (HDN) Foundation, Inc. is a nonstock, nonprofit organization whose mission is to propagate and mainstream the concept of sustainable human development through research and advocacy. It is the main partner of the UNDP in the conduct of dialogue and discussions among relevant groups and individuals pertaining to the major findings and conclusions of the yearly global human development reports in the Philippine context. The HDN, through the auspices of the UNDP, facilitates the preparation of the national version of the Human Development Report (HDR). For more info on the HDN: http://www.hdn.org
ABOUT UNDP: UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners. The annual global Human Development Report (HDR) commissioned by UNDP, focuses the global debate on key development issues, providing new measurement tools, innovative analysis and often-controversial policy proposals. The global Report’s analytical framework and inclusive approach carry over into regional and national HDRs. For more info on UNDP: http://www.undp.org; http://www.undp.org.ph