The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) strongly denies the allegation that lump sum appropriations’ amounting to P11.3-B exists within the budget of the NIA.
The General Appropriations Act of 2015 clearly shows that the P11.3-B which former Secretary Panfilo Lacson pertains to is broken down into projects per region with their corresponding budget allocation. The masterlist of projects is available to the public and anyone is free to scrutinize the 2-inch thick document at the NIA Office. The masterlist is also published at the NIA website.
NIA’s budget went through the rigorous budget preparation process. It starts with all the regional offices submitting lists of projects that are recommended by the Regional Development Councils (RDCs). These lists are then carefully scrutinized to come up with the masterlist of projects to be included in the agency’s budget for a particular year. The budget proposal is then presented to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) during the technical budget hearing and eventually approved by the same office. Further, the DBM requires Program of Work, a documentation which details the plan for each project, before the agency releases the allocation.
The 2015 NIA budget is supported with all the documents that would prove that its budget is above board. It is also a long standing practice of NIA that a separate list of projects is prepared that supports the agency’s GAA appropriations. It can said therefore that all the items in the budget are supported with a list of projects duly approved.
The only lump sum amount in the NIA budget is the P500-M Quick Response Fund (QRF) for disaster support. This budget can only be utilized for repair and rehabilitation of NIA facilities damaged by calamities and can not be itemized as the NIA can not foresee where calamity will hit and how much the damage will be. This fund is valid for 2 years, only expiring by the end of 2016 and can not be converted into a discretionary fund until expiration.
The NIA also denies that there are insertions in its 2015 budget amounting to Php146.235M. These amount is intended for the construction of four projects namely Agno River Irrigation System Extension Project (ARISEP), Dibuluan Irrigation Project (DIP), Bugko Irrigation Project (BIP), and Catarman-Bobon Irrigation Project (CBIP). The agency clarifies that these are “reprioritizations” of projects without change in the total NIA budget.