Government agencies see sharp decline in cash usage rate

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GOVERNMENT agencies’ cash usage declined in July to the slowest pace since April, according to data from the Budget department.

The utilization on Notices of Cash Allocation (NCAs) in July stood at 77.3%, slightly lower than the 77.9% recorded a year earlier.

Compared with June’s 121% however, utilization dipped sharply.

For the six months to July, the NCA utilization rate was 91.7%, lower than the 92.8% a year earlier.

An NCA is a cash authority issued quarterly by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to central, regional and provincial offices and operating units to cover their cash requirements.

“It’s not news,” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno told reporters on the sidelines of a forum in Makati City yesterday.

He said utilizations tend to drop at the start of each quarter. He added that his agency is focusing on monitoring the end-of-quarter period, as this is where the unused NCAs lapse.

Sought for comment, DBM Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua concurred, but noted that weather may have played a part.

“It may be due to seasonal schedules of programs [and the] rains, but it may also be due to July being [the first] month of a [quarterly] lapsing of NCAs,” said Ms. Pascua in a mobile phone reply.

The Commission on Audit had the highest utilization ratio at 100.3% followed by the Commission on Elections at 96.7%.

Government agencies with the lowest NCA usage rates are the Department of Tourism at 16.2%, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao at 16.6%, and other executive offices (such as the Anti-Money Laundering Council and Climate Change Commission, among others) at 16.7%.

Mr. Diokno said that his department is taking a closer look at budget disbursements to prevent a backlog of unspent funds. This is on top of the proposed Budget Reforms Bill, Rightsizing of the National Government bill, and capacity-building initiatives to speed up spending.

In the second quarter, the NCA utilization ratio was 95.5%, which was lower than the 95.8% from a year earlier, but higher than the first quarter’s 93.4%. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan