Money properly spent

Money properly spent

The country enters the so-called ’ber months, heralding the start of the long Christmas season, with the news that the government’s debt has climbed further to P11.6 trillion as of end-July.

This is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which last year drove the country into its deepest recession since World War II. While there are hints of economic recovery this year, most businesses are still devastated and revenues sources are down, even as more funds are needed for the pandemic response.

So the government has resorted to borrowing heavily from both domestic and foreign sources. Since the start of the year, the total national debt has grown by P1.8 trillion or 18.5 percent, rising by four percent from June to July alone.

The heavy borrowing makes it all the more important to spend public funds judiciously and with transparency for proper accounting, especially for expenditures related to the pandemic response. Details emerging at the ongoing Senate probe on the procurement of pandemic supplies, however, do not inspire public confidence about government spending.

Malacañang has maintained that all procurements from certain lucky and well-connected companies are aboveboard. With proper documentation, this should be easy to prove. Answering the accusations through solid evidence is the best way to dispel suspicions raised in people’s minds that emergency supplies procured by the government are overpriced and, worse, that crooks have profited from it.

The suspicions will not be dispelled by infantile name-calling. Even framing such probes as politicking will not wash. Who isn’t politicking in the national leadership? If dirt is unearthed by rival politicians, the public will still welcome the opportunity to establish wrongdoing and hold the guilty accountable. And the public will welcome any effort to ensure that the trillions in debt that the next generations of Filipinos will have to repay will be money properly spent.