House withdraws P2-B increase for national broadband
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives had withdrawn the additional P2 billion it earlier proposed for the government’s national broadband program (NBP), leaving it with only an almost P2 billion budget next year.
This was revealed Wednesday when Senator Panfilo Lacson questioned the budget cut in the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) from the Senate approved P14.4 billion to P8.4 billion during the bicameral conference committee.
Of the P14.4 billion, the Senate allotted P5.9 billion for the NBP, raising the original proposal of P902 million under the National Expenditure Program.
Lacson noted that the House added P2 billion to the P902 million, but the Senate further raised it by P3 billion, bringing it to a total of P5.9 billion.
“What happened, Mr. President? Because under the House version, nag-increase na ng P2 billion, naging P2.9B. Under the Senate version, we further increased by another P3B naging, P5.9B…,” he said.
At this point, Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, disclosed that the House withdrew its own amendment in the bicam.
“The House added as you correctly mentioned P2 billion. But in the bicam, they decided to withdraw it because they were citing the low utilization rate of 21 percent…,” Angara said.
“Well, what’s good for the goose should also be good for the gander,” Lacson answered, noting how the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways was increased by P28 billion despite the agency’s low utilization rate.
He reiterated the government could save P34 billion for five years if the national broadband program would be given sufficient funding.
“I’ll be frank ano, nadagdagan pa yung multipurpose. I will not mention [the locations anymore] because I don’t want to put some people on the spot. Suffice it to say na I know where additional funds for multipurpose buildings went to or are intended to be appropriated, so let’s leave it at that,” Lacson added. [ac]
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.