DPWH only spent a third of 2017 budget despite Build, Build, Build push

By Inquirer.net July 09,2018

The underpass project in Barangay Mambaling was implemented to address Cebu’s worsening traffic. It is one of the projects covered by the government’s Build, Build, Build program. cdn file

THE Duterte administration’s infrastructure push continues to be hampered by bureaucratic bottlenecks, as shown by the Department of Public Works and Highways’ use of only a third of its P662.69-billion funding in 2017.

Even as the DPWH vastly improved its ability to earmark its budget for various purposes, the Commission on Audit found a slight decline in the agency’s actual spending of the funds.

In its 2017 annual audit report, the COA said only P222.66 billion, or 33.6 percent, of the DPWH’s allotment was disbursed “due to the delayed/non-implementation of infrastructure projects.”

The year 2017 saw a slight dip from the disbursement rates of 34.14 percent (P185.12 billion of P542.23 billion) and 34.03 percent (P148.23 billion of P435.58 billion) in 2016 and 2015.

The utilization of funds declined despite the DPWH incurring more obligations — or contracts, expenditures and other legal liabilities that the government would need to pay for — in 2017.

The DPWH managed to obligate P610.93 billion, or 92.19 percent of the P662.69-billion cleared by the Department of Budget and Management in 2017.

This was a huge improvement compared to the obligation rates of 77.32 percent (P419.28 billion of P542.23 billion) and 78 percent (P33.975 billion of P435.58 billion) notched in the years 2016 and 2015.

For state auditors, this showed the DPWH management “was not able to effectively manage the increasing amount of funds entrusted to the agency due to low physical delivery of target project and activities.”

Delayed completion

The DPWH’s inability to make use of its available funds was partly blamed on the delays or even the failure to implement thousands of infrastructure projects in 2017.

A total of 2,334 projects worth P62.59 billion were not completed within the specified contract time.

One hudred twenty of these projects, costing P6.67 billion, incurred negative slippage (or the rate of delay) of 15 percent, but the DPWH had not imposed damages on the erring contractors or rescinded the contracts.

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