OPPOSITION Rep. Edcel Lagman has appealed to his colleagues in the House of Representatives to unite and move for the restoration of the cut in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Lagman has introduced a manifesto of support for the DPWH, which he expects the lawmakers, particularly those from the majority, to adopt.
“The Majority and the Minority must be united in supporting a realistic budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways in order to make a truism of the oft-repeated invocation that infrastructure is the engine of growth and help pursue the government’s Build, Build, Build agenda,” Lagman said.
Under the proposed 2019 national budget amounting to P3.757 trillion, the DPWH is one of the agencies that suffered budget cuts.
A total of P93.343 billion (P90.182 billion Capital Outlay and P3.781 billion Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses) was slashed from the DPWH budget.
Lagman said lawmakers must restore the cuts made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“We must not only restore the excised allocations but must augment the DPWH’s budget once found to be justified and imperative,” he added.
Lagman lamented that the DPWH is one of the major casualties of the “budgetary calisthenics” known as “cash-based budgeting” which the DBM is insisting on.
The reduction includes drastic reductions in the outlays of locally funded projects, Lagman said.
Cash-based budgeting is a system which requires agencies to spend their funds and implement their projects within the fiscal year.
Implementing government agencies are obliged to complete their project contracts by the end of 2019 regardless of obstacles (like natural calamities) which may cause delays.
However, a three-month grace period will be given for the completion of payment of the implementing agencies.
Likewise, they may also apply for a multi-year obligation authority, a document issued either for locally-funded or foreign-assisted projects implemented by government agencies which would authorize them to enter into multi-year contracts for the full project cost.
Lagman said the opposition solons welcomed the announcement of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that no district shall be punished with a zero infrastructure allocation.
But, Lagman asked, “how can this be done if the budget of DPWH is not adequate even as the lost infrastructure projects this year because of the zero allocations cannot be offset by additional funding next year if the proposed budget of the DPWH is frozen at its present decimated level?”
“Even as we treat the budget of DPWH with reasonable liberality, we must call on the Department to cleanse its officialdom and ranks of errant officials and employees; blacklist contractors who are delinquent; and assure that every peso allocated to it is implemented with prudence and integrity,” he also said.