FORMER Speaker and Taguig City Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano has reiterated his call for Congress to use its oversight powers in addressing the issue of unused funds under the Bayanihan 2 aid package.
These funds are intended for the relief measures to assist small businesses, Cayetano said.
Earlier, acting Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Tina Canda said the department will leave it up to lawmakers to open an inquiry into unused Bayanihan 2 funds.
“Congress has to step up and look into this issue of unused funds, kasi hindi pwedeng paulit-ulit tayo na ganito (things can’t be this way all the time),” Cayetano said.
He pointed to House Resolution 1731 which he and his allies filed on April 28, 2021 urging the House of Representatives to exercise its oversight powers to probe the utilization of funds under the Bayanihan 1 and 2 spending bills.
The resolution said Congress oversight will help the national government craft future stimulus programs.
A report released by the Commission on Audit (COA) dated March 2, 2022 had flagged P4.99 billion in unused funds intended for the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises or CARES program of the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.), a state-run company under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
State auditors had found that SB Corp. used only P4.09 billion or 45.04 percent of the total budget of P9.08 billion allocated for loans to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises under the Bayanihan 2 spending bill, which expired on June 30, 2021.
Around P4.99 billion or 54.96 percent of the budget allocated went unused and was reverted to the government’s General Fund, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).