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Grace Poe: DICT must prove it deserves P300 million secret fund

By: Charie Abarca - | September 14,2023 - 10:17 PM

Senator Grace Poe

FILE PHOTO: Senator Grace Poe presides over the Finance Subcommittee K’s deliberation of the proposed 2024 budget of the Department of Transportation on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. Poe on Thursday said the Department of Information and Communications Technology should prove that it deserves to have the P300 million confidential funds after the agency’s chief asserted they need the money to fight online scammers. Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe said Thursday that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) should prove that it deserves to have the P300 million confidential funds.

The lawmaker pointed out the need to study the DICT’s capability to properly spend its budget before it should be granted the secret funds next year, especially since the agency showed a dismal budget usage rate of 32.2 percent of its 2022 budget.

This rate, she added, “leaves little confidence” in the DICT in terms of proper utilization of its funds.

“Confidential funds were not consistently granted to DICT but we will ask the Commission on Audit to discuss with us how the P1.2 billion confidential funds were used in the past by the agency,” Poe said.

DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy earlier stressed his department needs a P300 million confidential fund in its 2024 budget to get rid of online scams.

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Poe agreed there is a pressing need to strengthen the country’s defense against cybercriminals, but she also said: “As [a] recipient of the fourth highest confidential fund among all agencies, the burden is on the DICT to prove to us that this is needed.”

“Only then will we decide to recommend their budget request to the plenary,” she added.

Poe will preside over the Senate committee on finance’s hearing on the proposed 2024 budget of the DICT next week. She said she expects Uy to defend their request for the P300 million confidential fund during the panel deliberations.

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TAGS: budget, confidential funds, DICT, Grace Poe

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