MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/14 July) – The supposed economic gains resulting from the Disbursement Acceleration Program have been used by the administration as its main defense for this measure which the Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional. Or, at least, the manner with which it was implemented is unconstitutional for reasons cited in the previous column, to wit: the Executive had usurped the power of Congress to appropriate funds, and declared as savings amounts that were not really savings and used these for items that were not in the General Appropriations Act.

As Budget Secretary Florencio Abad explained: “When we assumed office in 2010, we were confronted with inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the bureaucracy – the delayed implementation of priority programs and projects and inefficient disbursements among others – so that growth contracted for three quarters in 2011.

“With this, we introduced the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as a reform intervention to accelerate public spending and boost the economy. This program made way for the remarkable improvement in government expenditure making a significant improvement in GDP growth which rose to as high as 7.6% last year.”

But economic think-tank Ibon Foundation refuted the Palace’s claim that the DAP. It said the DAP failed to improve even government’s own spending, “just 7.6% of total government spending in 2011, 4.3% in 2012 and 1.0% in 2013. Measured versus the economy the DAP was just 0.88% of GDP in 2011, 0.56% of GDP in 2012 and 0.13% of GDP in 2013.”

Ibon further noted that DAP spending was highest in 2011 (P85.53 billion) but government expenditure actually slowed down from the previous year, from a growth of 7.1% in 2010 when there was no DAP to just 2.3% in 2011.

“The trend is the same if we take public expenditures less interest rate payments with 7.5% growth in 2010 down to 4.1% in 2011. Correspondingly, the equivalent share of expenditures to GDP fell: of total public expenditures from 16.9% in 2010 down to 16.0% in 2011 and, less interest payments, from 13.6% to 13.2% over the same period,” it added.

It is also interesting to examine not just the expenditures but also at the nature of projects funded under the DAP. Did such projects really serve as economic stimuli?

Government could not present any study prior to identification of projects to ensure they would really contribute to stimulating the economy. In fact, until now, Malacanang has refused to provide the list of projects funded under the DAP.

Moreover, in many instances, as can be gleaned from the evidence packets submitted by the Palace to the Supreme Court, huge DAP allocations simply involved movement of funds from one government agency to another. For example, one allocation involved the payment by the Department of Education of its P4.1-billion debts to the Government Service Insurance System, and another one involved infusing P20 billion as additional capital into the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The list is longer.

How could such transactions be properly called projects? (To be continued)
[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected]]