P6.5 B approved for road rehab in 73 provinces

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 3, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government has approved the release of P6.5 billion for the rehabilitation of roads in 73 of 81 provinces across the country.

Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said the amount has been earmarked by the department in the 2016 General Appropriations Act and forms part of the total P3-trillion national budget for this year – an election year.

Abad, a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party, clarified that not all 81 provinces were recipients of the road rehabilitation fund, with eight local government units apparently left out “based on performance.”

“DBM: Allocation of funds is performance-based; provinces were chosen based on compliance with good governance standards,” read the sub-title of DBM’s Jan. 3 press release, entitled: “Gov’t to spend P6.5 B for rehab of provincial roads in 73 provinces.”

“These qualified provinces have not only met good governance standards and social development benchmarks, they have also established monitoring and evaluation mechanisms,” Abad was quoted as saying.

Local government units from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, especially elected officials belonging to the LP and its administration coalition, are awaiting the release of these funds in time for the synchronized elections.

Abad calls it KALSADA (Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan at Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran).

He said the program is “an innovative devolution program that aims to institutionalize good governance by enabling and shepherding local government units on Local Road Management.”

The program will rehabilitate and upgrade provincial roads and transfer these road assets permanently to the provincial government, which will maintain them.

The program will also develop the Provincial Road Network Development Plan (PRNDP) for each province and promote the use of an online open data portal as a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of provincial roads.

Provinces were selected based on their compliance with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)’s Seal of Good Financial Housekeeping and submission to the DBM of their Local Public Financial Management Assessment Report. 

Allocations were determined by a combination of performance and need criteria, such as inclusion in the budget priorities framework provinces, utilization and completion of local road projects under the Special Local Roads Fund (SLRF), as well as regular appropriation and use of maintenance funds for local roads.

Abad said the P6.5-billion fund has a breakdown per province according to a formula that considers performance and need scores such as previous provincial utilization of SLRF and provincial road network length of the provinces that have complied with the requirements for consideration.

He added the program has put in place a monitoring and evaluation system to ensure that the upgrading and rehabilitation of roads will be completed.

In collaboration with the World Bank and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the government has created a system that uses geo-tagging for reporting on the status of the projects.

Through the Open Roads Portal, the public can check online which roads have been selected for rehabilitation or upgrading and track the progress of the road project from start to completion.

The Open Roads Portal (www.openroads.gov.ph) will contain the uploaded provincial road network maps, as well as videos of the conditions of priority roads before, during, and after the implementation of KALSADA.

Abad said KALSADA would increase the provinces’ ability to bring their road networks to sustainability-maintainable conditions by incorporating both Public Financial Management and technical criteria developed by the DILG through the Philippine provincial road management facility, an earlier governance reform program to improve the way provincial governments plan, budget, and maintain local infrastructure.

“The KALSADA program gives weight to the words ‘meaningful devolution.’ The national government will provide capital funding to offset road asset depreciation even as LGUs rehabilitate long-neglected provincial roads. With LGUs delivering basic services more effectively by planning and managing their resources more efficiently, we’re able to fully utilize the budget to attain inclusive growth,” Abad said.

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