Only 30.5 percent of national budget utilized � DBM
Stock photo of a peso money bill. Philstar / Jovannie Lambayan

DICT, DMW lowest spenders

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) were the lowest spenders in 2023.

The information surfaced during Thursday’s hearing on the proposed P5.768-trillion budget for 2024 by the House committee on appropriations attended by the administration’s economic managers.

Responding to a question from Bulacan Rep. Salvador Pleyto, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the average “obligation rate” of the national government as whole was 30.5 percent as of March 31.

“Obligation rate” pertains to the percentage of the budget already utilized by the government.

The data for the second quarter of the year was not yet available as these were only submitted by agencies to the Department of Budget and Management on July 31.

But based on available data, Pangandaman noted that DICT and the DMW were the lowest spenders as their utilization rates were only 5.6 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

Following them are the Department of Energy (10.5 percent), Department of Social Welfare and Development (11.4 percent), Department of Agriculture (13.8 percent), Department of Labor and Employment (14.1 percent), Office of the Press Secretary (14.9 percent), Civil Service Commission (18.4 percent) and Department of Tourism (18.9 percent).

According to Pangandaman, “absorbtive capacity” is one of the factors that DBM looks into in proposing a budget for a particular agency.

She added a low budget utilization rate “may reflect the agency’s limited capacity to utilize additional funds.”

She cited the case of the DICT, whose allocation for next year is at P7.25 billion from this year’s P8.28 billion due to its under utilized budget for 2022. Unutilized funds revert back to the National Treasury.

“That why when we deliberate on budget level with the agency, we check for their absorptive capacity and if their projects are shovel ready,” she maintained.

But the official pointed out that on Aug. 10, the DBM had already issued a circular for all agencies to submit their “catch up” plans until Sept. 15.