Bicam panel adds P87.5B to DPWH budget, P1.2B to DOH

Senator Sonny Angara (PRIB Senate / FILE PHOTO)

Lawmakers injected an additional 87.56 billion pesos into the budget of the Ministry of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), bringing the agency’s funding to 785.75 billion pesos for next year, according to the report of the Minister of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). committee of the bicameral conference on the national 5.024 billion pesos. the budget for 2022 has shown.

This despite questions about the ability of DPWH to implement previous projects.

In comparison, the committee added only 1.18 billion pesos to the 183.9 billion pesos budget of the Department of Health (DOH), even though the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which expected to be enacted by President Duterte on Monday, is presented as a COVID-19 pandemic recovery budget.

A copy of the 12-page report, ratified on December 15 by both houses of Congress, showed that the DPWH got the biggest budget increase. The original proposal was to increase it by over 196 billion pesos, but this was reduced to 87.56 billion pesos in the final report.

Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said the top three priorities for the 2022 budget were infrastructure, education and health. These three, he said, would receive about $ 2 trillion combined.

“The low absorption rate problem is true for a one-year spending horizon, but it improved dramatically in the second year,” Angara said, apparently referring to the DPWH case.

“This is why we have developed a modified cash budgeting provision that allows for a two-year horizon rather than a one-year horizon over the past three years where Congress has had to extend the validity of a GAA. for a particular year to ensure that there will be no return of funds to the treasury, ”he said.

During previous Senate budget deliberations, Senators Franklin Drilon and Panfilo Lacson questioned the huge budget allocated to the DPWH.

Citing files, Drilon, the minority leader, raised the question of the absorption capacity of the DPWH, recalling that the agency was only able to disburse about 30% of the funds released to it in 2021.

More for SUCs

Lacson, for his part, asked why the huge funding would remain with the central office of the DPWH when the implementation of infrastructure projects from 2022 would already be devolved to local communities under Executive Decree No.138. , which provided for the complete devolution of certain executive functions to local governments.

The report also showed that a total of 32.47 billion pesos in funding was added to the budgets of the 117 universities and state colleges (SUCs) nationwide. The additional budget for each university or college ranges from a maximum of 4.22 billion pesos for the University of the Philippines system to a minimum of 11.8 million pesos that Batanes State College will get.

Other state universities that get higher increases, according to the report, are Mindanao State University, 1.4 billion pesos; Batangas State University, 1.34 billion pesos; Central Bicol State University of Agriculture, 1.34 billion pesos (more than double its allocation of 578 million pesos in the General Appropriations Bill, or GAB); Marinduque State College, 1.2 billion pesos; Cavite State University, 990.3 million pesos; and Romblon State University, 900.2 million pesos (nearly three times its original funding of 269.5 million pesos).

To fund these increases, the conference’s bicameral committee, made up of senators and members of the House of Representatives, cut funds for other spending items.

Funding cuts

The Department of Transportation suffered the largest reduction of 42.1 billion pesos, reducing its 2022 budget to 75.25 billion pesos from the 117.31 billion pesos initially proposed to Congress.

Some 30.7 billion pesos were also withdrawn from the 48.7 billion pesos local government support fund.

The proposed budget of 51.5 billion pesos for the Higher Education Commission has been reduced by 38.5%, or 19.85 billion pesos.

The proposed budget of 198.94 billion pesos for the Pension and Free Benefit Fund (PGF) was also reduced by 15 billion pesos, while the Miscellaneous Staff Benefit Fund (MPBF) item was also reduced by 6 billion. , 47 billion pesos.

The PGF is used to pay retirement and separation benefits for uniformed personnel across the country (military, police, and coastguard) and employees of state-owned and controlled companies (GOCCs).

The MPBF is used for the payment of employee benefits, such as bonuses, allowances, and other national government employee benefits, as well as to cover increases in government matching contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) as part of the Universal Health Care Plan. law.

The budget proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture of 18.37 billion pesos has been reduced by 4 billion pesos.

The budget of the Ministry of Labor and Employment, which was responsible for helping workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been slashed by 6.4 billion pesos, according to the report.

Even with the simmering tension in the Western Philippine Sea, lawmakers slashed the Philippine Armed Forces’ 223.5 billion peso funding for 2022 by 10.5 billion pesos.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the main agency helping micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that have been affected by the pandemic, also took a reduction of 1.98 billion pesos from its allocation of 23 , 92 billion pesos in the ATM.

Other agencies and GOCCs that have suffered budget cuts include the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (P 4 billion), the Department of Tourism (P 160 million), National Power Corp. (339.9 million) and Small Business Corp. (500 million P).

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