Diokno: P75-B ‘adjustment’ in DPWH 2019 budget is for infra commitment
MANILA, Philippines —The P75-billion “adjustment” for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) under the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget next year was made to fulfill the government’s commitment to disburse at least 5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for infrastructure.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno issued this explanation on Wednesday as he stressed that the additional allocation for DPWH is not an insertion as alleged by House leaders.
“The request of the DPWH was initially P652 billion, not P488 billion as Congressman (Rolando) Andaya mentioned yesterday (Wednesday). We initially approved P480 billion out of the P652 billion for DPWH, that could be where he got that number,” Diokno said.
“But in the final phase, we found that this was still short of our commitment to disburse at least 5% of GDP for infrastructure. That’s why the budget of DPWH was adjusted by P75.5 billion,” he added.
On Tuesday, during the Question Hour at the House of Representatives, Diokno was grilled by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, Jr. about the alleged P51-billion “insertions” in the DPWH’s budget for 2019.
Also during the Question Hour, Diokno revealed the augmentation for DPWH’s budget next year was P75 billion, several billion pesos more than Andaya’s figures.
The total budget for the DPWH, according to the National Expenditure Program, is P556 billion – well below the original proposal of P652 billion by the public works department, Diokno noted.
“So I don’t know where he (Andaya) got P51 billion. The math will show that the adjustment would be closer to P75 billion,” he added.
Diokno also said adjustments such as this, based on his experience as Budget chief of previous administrations, are normal during budget preparation phase.
Diokno had served as Budget chief during the administrations of former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Cory Aquino.
“I’ve prepared at least ten budgets. Five during Cory’s term, two during Erap’s time, and three under this administration. Adjustments happen,” he said. /kga
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