Manila, August 31 (Engineering Daily) -- The Philippines lawmakers of both oppositions and pro administration have united to push for an increase in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for next year.
During the budget deliberations of the House appropriations committee on the DPWH's proposed PHP544.521-billion budget for 2019, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman rallied lawmakers to support the restoration of cuts made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and an augmentation of the DPWH's budget.
"The majority and minority must be united in supporting a realistic budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways in order to fulfil the oft-repeated invocation that infrastructure is the engine of growth and helps pursue the government's "BBB" (Build, Build, Build) agenda," Lagman said.
The PHP544.521-billion budget for next year saw a downward trend of 14.63 percent from this year's PHP637.864-billion budget.
House appropriations committee chairman Karlo Nograles echoed Lagman's sentiment, saying they would strive to at least restore the budget that the DPWH has originally proposed.
"The majority will join with the minority and the independents in consolidating our forces to restore at the very least, what we’re really looking for is what has been proposed (by the DPWH)," Nograles said.
Nograles said it was the sentiment of the House during an all-member caucus that "we are not going to support the cash-based budgeting".
Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat asked DPWH Secretary Mark Villar how the agency can support the administration's massive infrastructure program when its capital outlay was cut by more than PHP90 billion.
Villar said while the shift to a cash-based budgeting is "challenging" as it requires disbursements to be made within the fiscal year, the department has made several adjustments for that.
"We are adjusting to this new policy which is in contrast to the previous shift. It is the mandate of this department if they tell us to disburse in one year, we have to adjust our assumptions based on that. We have to make sure that our timelines are extremely accurate. We have to make sure preparation of our projects are all on time... It's more challenging, (but) it's not impossible. It's a different form of budgeting and we will do our best to adjust to it" Villar said.