Tugade: Possible DOTr budget cut will jeopardize projects for next 2 years
MANILA, Philippines — Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said Wednesday that the possible P60-billion cut of the Senate on the proposed budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for 2020, due to supposed underspending, will jeopardize the agency’s projects for the next two and a half years.
Interviewed on ABS-CBN News Channel, Tugade said that hitting the DOTr on its low disbursement for 2019 is “not a very accurate approach.”
“Pag i-naslash mo ‘yung (If you slash the) budget, how can we operate on projects which we have forecast and there is no budget? What is the effect? You are actually putting into jeopardy the projects which we have envisioned to be done in the next two and a half years,” he said.
He defended the disbursement of the DOTr for its projects this year after some senators questioned the agency for supposed underspending. He explained that some projects, including the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, have been completed but some payments have yet to be finalized.
“Kasi merong mga progressive billings, tinitingnan mo ‘yung billings, vinavalidate mo, meron din ‘yung mga retention, ‘yun hindi mo nababayaran pa (Because there are some progressive billings, you are looking at billings, you validate that, there are also some retention that are not yet paid). That’s not part of the actual disbursement but in reality it is a virtual actual disbursement because it will just be a matter of time that it will be paid,” he explained.
In so far as the DOTr is concerned, Tugade said the agency already has an obligated amount of more than 80 percent of its total budget for this year. Of this number, 44 percent have already been disbursed.
“Now they will say 44 percent were actually disbursed, that’s low, but does it mean that there are no projects? No. Because the actual disbursement of 44 percent does not include certain situations as follows. Number one, it does not include the situation that projects that have been completed has not been fully paid,” he said.
Tugade also explained that among the obstacles causing delay in some of the projects of the DOTr are issues on resettlement and the right of way in sites where some infrastructure are proposed to be built.
The DOTr is seeking a budget of P147 billion for 2020. This is more than double of its approved budget of P67.67 billion for this year’s fiscal plan.
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