MANILA, Philippines — For every peso of its 2021 budget, the Department of Health (DOH) has only disbursed 38 centavos as of August.
This was bared during the House debates on the proposed budget of the DOH for next year, as Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo lamented Tuesday the agency’s low fund utilization.
According to Cebu 5th District Rep. Vincent Franco Frasco, who was sponsoring the proposed budget of the DOH, out of the agency’s P246.9 billion budget for 2021, it has obligated P168.3 billion and disbursed P94.26 billion as of August 31.
“Mukhang napakababa ng fund utilization. Effective utilization as of August 30… is only about 38 percent. In other words, for every one peso of allotment, sa ngayon 38 centavos pa lang ang disbursed,” Quimbo, an economist, pointed out.
(It seems that the DOH’s fund utilization is really low. Effective utilization as of August 30… is only about 38 percent. In other words, for every one peso of allotment, only 38 centavos have been disbursed.)
Public funds are deemed “obligated” when contracts for government projects have been signed, while funds are deemed “disbursed” when the money is paid to the suppliers.
In response to Quimbo, Frasco said that the agency’s bulk of expenditures—and thus the fund disbursement—happens from September to October of the year.
Despite this, Quimbo noted that the DOH also has undisbursed funds from 2019 and 2020, amounting to P37 billion and P59 billion, respectively.
“Hindi ba talaga napakalaki ng natitirang pondo mula sa DOH budget every year? Malaki ang nilalagay nating budget dahil malaki ang pangangailangan natin sa kalusugan pero nakikita natin based sa financial reports na ang dami ring natitira,” Quimbo said.
(Isn’t it that the unspent funds from the yearly budget of DOH really huge? We give them a huge budget because we need it for the public’s health, but we can see that a huge chunk is unspent based on the financial reports.)
“Pasensya na ho pero yun ang aking conclusion… nakikita natin na mababa talaga ang disbursement rate,” she added.
(I’m sorry but that is my conclusion… we can see that the disbursement rate is really low.)
The DOH is seeking a P242.22 billion budget for next year—slightly higher than the funds allocated for the agency in 2021.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque earlier noted that P19.68 billion is allotted for COVID-19 response out of these funds.