August 15, 2012
Huge unobligated Comelec budget to defray
Following a series of brouhaha over its budget for 2013, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) today assured the Senate Finance Committee that there were no more disputes over its budget and that the P8.42 billion proposed allocation will meet its requirements for the conduct of the 2013 elections.
At today's hearing of its proposed 2013 budget, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes assured Senator Franklin M. Drilon that the 2013 proposed budget of P8.42 billion is acceptable to them and enough to cover expenses for the synchronized national, local and Autonomous Regions of Muslim Mindanao elections.
"The Comelec has agreed that their budget be pegged at P8.42 B which was the budget the Department of Budget and Management has indicated in the National Expenditures Program. As to unfunded services and activities needed for the 2013 elections that can be done and purchased in 2012, the 2012 appropriation of the Comelec will be augmented by the DBM," said Drilon.
"The Comelec chair has also given assurance that the previous misunderstandings between them and the budget department over their budget have already been settled and they can make do with their proposed 2013 budget," he added.
Per the Comelec presentation, the agency would need P11.01 billion to implement the synchronized elections which amounts P7.06 billion, the automated overseas absentee voting amounting P205.98 million, and the Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay Registration and Elections amounting P3.75 billion, noted Drilon.
However, Drilon emphasized the Comelec still has huge unobligated balances which it can use to defray election related expenses to ensure a smooth automated elections next year.
Drilon said the agency has P11.57 billion in an unobligated budget which was earmarked for the payment for the purchase of Precinct Count Optical System machines amounting P2.8 billion, for the associated cost related to the purchase including acquisition of ballots and storage facilities amounting P6.13 billion, and the budget for Comelec Strategic Plan of P2.14 billion.
The balance of P1.15 billion is still for the agency to decide where to use, he noted.
"We will maintain the P8.4 billion and the DBM and Comelec will augment their budget to the extent necessary in order to cover activities which were not funded in 2013," stressed Drilon.
The Senate panel deferred the approval of the agency's proposed budget and scheduled another meeting on August 30, 2012.
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