Abad explains ‘nature’ of Malampaya funds

Abad explains ‘nature’ of Malampaya funds

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad explained the nature of the controversial Malampaya funds on Tuesday — a day after a senator called for transparency in disbursing the said proceeds from the Philippines’ largest natural gas development project.

In a statement by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Abad said the Malampaya fund balance of P79.48 billion as of May is not actual cash but an accounting of revenue inflows and expenditure items charged against the fund since the remittance of revenues from the Malampaya Natural Gas Project began in 2002.

The secretary also explained “that the annual revenue inflow in the form of net proceeds from the sale of petroleum from the Malampaya Natural Gas Project is accounted for as part of the yearly revenue program supporting the Budget proposal submitted to Congress.”

“Hence, the proceeds are effectively utilized every year to fund expenditures approved by Congress. For 2011, some P26.2 billion of Malampaya proceeds is projected under the P138 billion non tax revenue program of the government,” the DBM said.

The secretary, however, said the Bureau of Treasury and the Department of Energy maintain a Malampaya Special Account under the General Fund (Fund 151) “to account for the revenue inflows due to its royalties from the Malampaya project and the specific expenditure items charged against Fund 151.”

“In other words, there’s no P79.48-billion in cash sitting in any bank and ready to be used by the government at any time,” Abad said.

On Monday, Senator Ralph Recto asked the Palace to include in the proposed national budget for 2012 the multi-billion proceeds from the Malampaya deep water gas-to-power project.

“The Malampaya funds have long been floating up in the budget clouds. The time has come to escort it down to the fold of the GAA or the annual budget,” Recto said in a statement.

In response to the senator’s statement, Abad said his agency appreciates Recto’s desire to give more transparency to the use of the Malampaya funds. “We are ready to work with him and with Congress to ensure that the Malampaya fund is used properly and strategically,” Abad said.

In May, the family of slain Palawan broadcaster Gerardo Ortega on Tuesday asked the Senate to investigate the alleged misuse of the proceeds from the Malampaya deep water gas-to-power project — which Ortega heavily criticized. (GMA News)

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