Senators earlier said they would probe the DOTr’s Metro Manila subway project, whose cost was reportedly bloated by over P100 billion with its route and specifications allegedly altered that it would twice tra­verse a major earthquake fault and flood-prone areas, and plow through thousands of private residences.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
‘Poor planning led to massive government underspending’
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Several government agen­cies failed to fully utilize the budgets allocated to them this year mainly due to poor plan­ning by their officials, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has said.

He cited the Department of Transportation (DOTr), which apparently is not close to fin­ishing a major airport, seaport, or railway project, which he attributed to poor planning, and failing to put in place measures to anticipate right-of-way (ROW) problems.

“Next year, I doubt it very much if they’re going to be able to spend all their budget. We sound like a broken record year in, year out,” Recto said in a recent radio interview.

He cited as an example the Senate’s move last year to cut the DOTr’s ROW budget for 2019. Records showed the agency has P13 billion still unspent for the particular ap­propriation.

The department is asking for P20 billion for its ROW budget for 2020. Add to the P13 billion still in its coffers, it would have a total of P33 bil­lion next year and it is unlikely to be spent fully.

Senators are moving to have the DOTr ’s proposed P147-billion budget for 2020 slashed by as much as P60 billion because of its poor dis­bursement record. The funds will be realigned to other agencies, including P10 billion to the Commission on Higher Education for its scholarships and free college education; P7 billion to the Department of Education; P8 billion to the Department of Health; and P10 billion to the Department of Agriculture.

Senators earlier said they would probe the DOTr’s Metro Manila subway project, whose cost was reportedly bloated by over P100 billion with its route and specifications allegedly altered that it would twice tra­verse a major earthquake fault and flood-prone areas, and plow through thousands of private residences.

Recto earlier slammed the DOTr and other departments for the “artificial spending” practice where they let other agencies — like the Department of Budget and Management and the Philip­pine International Trading Corp. — to do their procurement to cover up failure to spend.

The result is that funds are not spent and merely parked in another agency, he said.

Sen. Sonny Angara said yes­terday he does not agree with the observation that the Build Build Build (BBB) program has been a failure despite some is­sues faced in the prioritization of a number of flagship pro­grams of the administration.

Both Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and presidential advis­er on flagship projects Vince Dizon have clarified that the list was not updated and was just a small part of a bigger list of projects under the BBB.

The administration has since amended its list of flag­ship projects, which now con­tains a total of 100 items.

Angara, who chairs the committee on finance currently going over the proposed P4.1- trillion national budget for 2020, expressed optimism the “reconfiguration” of the list of flagship projects would mean all of the projects will either commence or be completed before the end of the Duterte administration.

“I see this as a positive de­velopment because only those projects that will actually be started under the current ad­ministration were included in the list. Many of these projects will not be completed in 2022, but what is important is that work on these will start al­ready and will be continued by the next administration,” Angara said.

Villar earlier said since June 2016, a total of 9,845 km of roads, 2,709 bridges, 4,536 flood control projects, 82 evacuation centers and 71,803 classrooms have already been completed under the BBB program.

RALPH RECTO
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