State Dining Room, Malacañan Palace
August 15, 2023

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. held a sectoral meeting at the State Dining Room in Malacañan Palace.

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman reported on addressing underspending in the national budget and measures to improve the budget utilization of national government agencies. She presented an update on the status of national government underspending for the first semester from 2015-2023, noting that spending momentum started to improve in 2017 and that there has been a significant decline in underspending in 2022.

However, the DBM Secretary cited that low disbursement of government agencies are caused by procurement-related difficulties, substantial outstanding checks recorded as of end of June 2023 and billing concerns from suppliers/creditors, among others. To this end, she discussed the proposed actions to be undertaken by the Department to address this concern and improve government spending/budget utilization that includes the following — early release of allotments, conduct of early procurement activities, simplified implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Government Procurement Reform Law, launch of the Government Purchase Card (GPC) Program, digitalization of government disbursements and collection, and adoption of Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) across agencies.

President Marcos Jr. noted that two (2) out of the five (5) proposed actions by the DBM require digitalization, specifically pointing to the national government IDs and synchronization of transactions/payments for government services per agency. In response, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy said that the DICT is already in the process of finalizing its e-Gov Pay mobile application, adding that it is currently working on formulating standards and data operability across all government agencies to ensure synchronized data and standardized payment for transactions.

Furthermore, DBM Secretary Pangandaman imparted that the Department is set to issue circular letters to national government agencies on their catch-up plans, of which the consolidated report from these plans shall be used to determine the necessity of the release of balance of programmed appropriations and revisions of plans/targets for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, and schedule of fund release reflected in the DBM-evaluated budget execution documents submitted to the DBM for FY 2024, among others.

During the meeting, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) discussed updates on their respective agencies’ budget utilization and catch-up plans.

The President underscored that the issue of underspending is really important and directed all these agencies not to fall out of track in their budget utilization, and maximize spending for their identified areas of priority.

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