Lacson on DPWH budget: P83B infra funds ‘migrated’, P55B ‘disappeared’
MANILA, Philippines — Over P83 billion worth of funding for infrastructure projects under the 2021 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) “migrated to new areas” while appropriations worth P55 billion “disappeared,” Senator Panfilo Lacson bared Friday.
Lacson claimed that members of the bicameral conference committee made “capricious and arbitrary” realignments under the DPWH budget since it did not involve “proper planning” by the agency.
“Congress bicameral committee report: P83.87 [billion] of DPWH infra projects migrated to new areas while appropriations worth P55.52 [billion] disappeared,” Lacson said over Twitter.
“As if it wasn’t enough to satisfy their greed, they cut the budgets of other departments by P28.35 [billion]. Story of our lives,” he added.
Asked to expound on this, Lacson told INQUIRER.net that the “adjustments” made by the bicameral conference committee—which consist of House and Senate lawmakers—included “new items” in the DPWH budget.
These “adjustments” also consisted of augmentations for existing items under the budget.
“All these, in the total amount of P83.87 billion,” he said in a text message.
To fill this amount, Lacson said funds for existing items under the DPWH budget were decreased while the “rest of the items were completely removed.”
“The total aggregate decrement as per our initial cursory amounts to P55.521 billion,” he added.
Since there is a difference of P28.35 billion, the senator said the bicam members “had to extract” that amount from projects of other departments or agencies “to make up for the shortage.”
According to Lacson, he has yet to determine which departments or agencies got a cut in their budget for the over P28 billion added to the DPWH.
“As of last night, we haven’t seen the line by line adjustments under the bicam. All we have as we speak are the summary, the joint explanatory notes, and the changes in the special and general provisions,” he said in a separate message.
This was one of the reasons why he did not sign the bicameral committee report, he said.
Congress ratified the final version of the P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021 on Wednesday.
“These realignments being capricious and arbitrary on the part of the bicameral conference committee members, they did not involve proper planning by the DPWH,” Lacson said.
“This explains why, as I have pointed out in my interpellation last Wednesday, year in and year out, DPWH suffers one of the lowest budget utilization rates with an annual average of P82B from 2011 to 2018 and even lower average disbursement rate since 2017,” he added.
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