DBM: At least P1.109B needed for new Department of Overseas Filipinos | Inquirer News
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DBM: At least P1.109B needed for new Department of Overseas Filipinos

By: - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
/ 03:14 PM February 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — At least P1.109 billion is needed to fund the creation of the proposed Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOLFIL), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said Monday.

During a Senate hearing on the bills on DOFIL, DBM Systems and Productivity Improvement Bureau Director Emelita Menghamal said the amount would cover the basic operationalization of the department.

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“We have this estimated cost for 2021 the amount of 1.109 billion [pesos] which refers to the estimated minimum funding requirement for a newly created department,” she said.

“This would cover the cost for the basic operationalization of a department but this excludes those for the implementation of the specific programs, activities, and projects of a department who deliver its organizational outcomes and outputs consistent with its mandate,” Menghamal added.

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For his part, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the creation of DOFIL “will not be another big budget ticket on the National Expenditure Program (NEP), but rather a rightsizing solution.”

“The creation of the DOFIL will not require a large amount from the NEP as the budget previously assigned to absorbed offices will be the statutory budget for this new Department,” he said during the hearing.

The budget of the proposed DOFIL will include funds that have been allocated for:

  • the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs – P16 million
  • Assistance to Nationals Fund – P1 billion and
  • the Legal Assistance Fund – P200 million
  • Commission of Filipino Overseas – P152 million
  • International Labor Affairs Bureau – P31.528 million
  • Philippine Overseas Labor Office – P1.375 billion
  • National Reintegration for OFWs P4.219 billion
  • Social Welfare Attachés Office (SWATO)/ International Social Services Office – P169 million

The respective budgets of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (P507 million) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (P7.39 billion) would be treated separately from the DOFIL since they would be attached agencies with their own respective charters, Nograles said.

“For the first year of its creation, hindi po tayo magdadagdag ng budget kasi ‘yung budget na naka-lodge sa iba’t ibang offices, isa-subsume na. Wala nang dagdag na budget ang kinakakailangan,” he said.

(For its first year of creation, we will not be adding a budget since the budgets of agencies and offices will be subsumed.)

“We will only see what sort of budget implications it will have siguro on the next budget cycle. That’s the reason why we want it sana passed na para when Congress begins to deliberate on the 2022 budget, then doon na po natin makikita kung mayroon pa bang karagdagang budget ang kinakailangan for 2022 pero very minimal lang siguro,” Nograles added.

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(That’s the reason why we want it passed already so that when Congress begins to deliberate on the 2022 budget, we will then see if we would need an additional budget but it would likely be minimal.)

National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said the agency has recommended that the transition period for the new department should be extended to two years instead of six months.

“We’re actually proposing for two years [transition] because we are in a pandemic, there are so many problems that could come up that require very immediate response and if you have a transition being done, it could hamper the response,” she said.

Last December, President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent Senate Bill No. 1949, or the creation of a department focused solely on the needs of overseas Filipinos and their families.

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