House panel starts oversight queries on gov’t offices’ budget ops

The House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee on Thursday officially began its series of oversight queries on the budget performance of national government agencies. Estella Quimbo, senior vice chairperson of the panel, presided over the budget oversight hearing of the Department of Health (DOH) to kick off the queries that would ensure the budget under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) are properly ‘utilized and disbursed timely, effectively, and efficiently.’ ‘We shall begin with a series of oversight meetings on the budget performance of departments, agencies, and corporations of the national government funded under the FY 2022 GAA and for the 1st Quarter of FY 2023 GAA,’ Quimbo said. She said Appropriations Committee chairperson, Rep. Elizaldy Co, is committed to actively pursuing the monitoring and compliance by agencies with the requirements and/or conditions in the utilizations of public funds as provided under Section 29, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. ‘Under the oversight power of the Committee on Appropriations, we are responsible for ensuring that the appropriations under the GAA are utilized and disbursed timely, effectively, and efficiently in accordance with the intent of Congress,’ she said. ‘Additionally, to recommend whether or not these activities or projects be pursued, curtailed, or eliminated in the budget proposal for the next budget year to be authorized by Congress.’ Quimbo, the 2nd District representative of Marikina, said the panel shall not intervene, participate, or undertake any role or function in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as, but not limited to, project identification or modification, fund releases, and other activities beyond its congressional oversight functions, as defined under applicable laws or jurisprudence. Based on the Fiscal Year 2022 compliance audit of the Commission on Audit, the DOH is confronted by the following issues related to fund use: – Deficiencies noted in the procurement process and timelines; – Lapse of unutilized allotments and low utilization; – Deficiencies in the distribution and use of Covid-19-related items; – Deficiencies in the payment of Covid-19 benefits and allowances; and – Deficiencies and delays in the implementation of the health facilities enhancement program (HFEP). Quimbo appealed to the members of the panel to direct their queries and questions on matters relevant to the compliance audit. She also asked the panel to deliberate on Financial Accountability Reports and Physical Reports of Operations for FY 2022 and as of March 2023 of the DOH; budget uses vis-a-vis targets/performance as of the budget year 2022 and 2023; and status of implementation of the HFEP as of FY 2022 and the 1st Quarter of FY 2023.

Source: Philippines News Agency