‘We trimmed the fat:’ Senate cuts approved DOTr budget to P109 billion
MANILA, Philippines — The 2021 budget of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) was trimmed to P109 billion—around P35 billion lower than its initial proposal—when it was approved by the Senate in plenary on Tuesday.
The executive department initially requested a P145.36-billion allocation for the DOTr in 2021, according to Senator Grace Poe, who sponsored the agency’s budget.
“We trimmed the fat and examined the DOTr’s ability to use it. We are in a pandemic and there are important items that the government must spend on,” Poe said during the Senate budget deliberations.
“Historically, the DOTr has not been able to use up its budget. Even with the cut, the 2021 budget is still record-high and it’s a phenomenal increase from last year’s,” she added.
Meanwhile, under the House-approved General Appropriations Bill (GAB), the DOTr’s proposed budget was cut to P125.36 billion.
The Senate and the House of Representatives will eventually need to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of the budget bill in a bicameral conference committee.
“As you can see, we’ve trimmed a little more in the Senate so we can have room to maneuver. We achieved the cut while adding a P5-billion subsidy for those in the public utility vehicle sector,” Poe went on.
“We need to scrutinize the budget and be more unforgiving when it comes to wastage. People are suffering and jeepney drivers have been without income for too long,” she added.
Aside from the budget of the DOTr, the budgets of the following attached agencies have also been deemed approved:
- Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) – P203 million
- Maritime Industry Authority – P765 million
- Office of Transportation Cooperatives -P36 million
- Office for Transportation Security – P338 million
- Philippine Coast Guard – P13 billion
- Light Rail Transit – P1.018 billion
- Philippine National Railway – P1.23 billion
While the total budget of the DOTr was trimmed, Poe noted that the budgets of two aviation agencies were increased “given that aviation took the hardest hit during the pandemic.”
The Senate, according to Poe, added P1.533 billion for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, which did not get any funding from the GAB or the National Expenditure Program.
Poe said P60.8 million was also added under the CAB’s budget.
The budget of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), however, has yet to be approved after Senator Richard Gordon objected to it until the agency can explain the delayed implementation of a law imposing bigger, readable, and color-coded number plates on motorcycles.
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