Press Release
February 6, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to simplify the procedures for releasing funds to government agencies and private parties to eliminate opportunities for graft.

Pimentel said he saw no need for the DBM to issue a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and a National Cash Allocation (NCA) for one and the same financial transaction, pointing out that one document is enough.

The imposition of so many requirements by a bureaucracy opens the door to corruption. Even if you already have the SARO, you still have to make a follow-up for the release of the NCA. And here, you see the operators and fixers coming into play, he said.

The minority leader said even senators and congressmen are confused because it usually takes a long time before funds are actually released by the DBM for projects.

Whats the use of a SARO if it will depend on another order to get the money released? Thats a terrible thing. This is where the bureaucracy encourages corruption which, I think, makes a mockery of this administrations pronouncements to fight corruption, he said.

Asking why no steps have been taken by the budget and other government authorities to solve the flawed fund disbursement system, Pimentel said this has only fanned suspicion that some people in the DBM are in cahoots with the operators and fixers who offer their services to facilitate the release of funds in exchange for a commission or kickback.

If you lessen the bureaucratic requirements, automatically you also lessen the opportunities for graft. It doesnt make sense to require so many papers to be submitted and so many signatures to be secured before the fund releases can come, he said.

In a recent Senate budget hearing, Budget and Management Undersecretary Lourdes Pascua explained that the two documents came about because of the need to control the budget in the light of the fiscal situation. The SARO is supposedly intended to enable the agencies to enter into a contract even before actual release of funds. On the other hand, the NCA is the authority given to agencies to encash the checks issued by the DBM.

Unconvinced by the budget officials justification, Pimentel said the SARO and NCA were already part of the standard procedures even when the governments finances were in better shape during past administrations.

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