LGU Bayanihan grants to expire on Sept. 16 unless President extends calamity declaration

Department of Budget and Management (DBM)

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said local government units (LGUs) must use their one-time grants under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law (Bayanihan I) by Sept. 16, unless the Palace extends the state of calamity beyond that date.

In a Viber message Sunday, Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua said the department had been planning to extend the deadline to Sept. 30 but “per the bureau in charge, the utilization of the Bayanihan Grant is contingent with the duration of the State of Calamity, which will expire on Sept. 16th, unless extended by the President through a proclamation order.”

“If the state of calamity is not extended beyond Sept 16, the LGUs will have to revert the balances.”

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) told the DBM last week that it has submitted a proposal to the Office of the President to extend the state of calamity for one more year, she said.

Originally, the grant was intended for use during the six-month state of calamity arising from the pandemic which started March 16.

The department in July issued Circular Letter 2020-10 noting the low levels of utilization and reminded LGUs to use the grants before the validity period expires and the funds are returned to the Treasury.

“Failure on the part of the local officials concerned to comply with the pertinent provisions of existing and applicable budgeting, accounting, and auditing laws, rules and regulations shall subject the erring local officials to penalties under existing laws,” according to the circular.

Cities and municipalities in mid-April received the financial aid worth P30.8 billion while provinces took in P6.2 billion. The amount is equivalent to one month of their internal revenue allotment (IRA), or their share of national taxes, for cities and municipalities and half a month’s worth for the provinces.

The Bayanihan grant can be used to acquire personal protective equipment (PPE), test kits, medical supplies, tools and equipment, food, transportation and accommodation expenses for health workers and other personnel of public hospitals, construction, repair or rental of additional establishments to accommodate COVID-19 patients or those for monitoring; training of personnel and other COVID-19-related expenses of the local government and the hospitals it operates.

The DBM said the funds cannot be used for cash assistance programs, personnel services expenditures such as salaries, administrative and traveling expenses, registration fees for training, seminars and conferences, furniture, fixtures, equipment or appliances for administrative offices, and motor vehicles, including ambulances. — Beatrice M. Laforga