DICT seeks add’l P5.6 billion in 2024 national budget
MANILA, Philippines — Despite its low budget utilization rate, the Department of Information and Communications and Technology (DICT) is asking for a P5.6 billion additional budget in its proposed 2024 allocation for next year.
Under the proposed 2024 National Expenditure Program, the Department of Budget and Management has given the DICT a total of P8.729 billion fund for 2024.
Noting that it is insufficient, DICT Undersecretary for Support Service Heherson Asiddao on Tuesday said they need at least P5.6 billion more to “function properly as an organization, together with all [its] regional offices.”
According to Assidao, the additional funds will be used for the following projects and initiatives:
- General Administration and Support – General Management and Supervision Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (P300,000,000)
- Procurement of personal and property protection services (P200,000,000)
- Preparation of master development plan for DICT Corporate Center (P30,000,000)
- Creation of architectural and engineering designs for the DICT Corporate Center (P170,000,000)
- Regional Development Program (P25,100,000)
- International Cooperation and Commitments Management Program (P21,903,290.80)
- E-Government Systems Development Plan (P2,000,000,000)
- TradeNet Platform (P167,783,000)
- Government Emergency Communication system Phase 3 and Nationwide Interoperable Communication Phase 1 (P800,000,000)
- ICT systems and infrastructure management and services (P154,916,000)
- Consumer Complaint Center (P100,000,000)
- National Computer Emergency Response Program (P1,148,000,000)
- Philippine National Public Key Infrastructure (P290,000,000)
- Critical Infrastructure Evaluation and Security Standards Monitoring Program (P63,134,724.80)
- National ICT Planning, Implementation, and Monitoring Programme (P12,500,000)
- ICT Policy and Standards Development and Advocacy Program (P12,269,183.30)
- Regionalization of ICT Planning and Policy Formulation (P17,382,868)
- ICT Industry Development Program (P100,000,000)
However, during the Senate Committee on Finance’s deliberations on the proposed budget of DICT, it was revealed that the agency’s utilization of its 2023 allocation is only 25 percent. This means that out of its P13.9 billion budget in 2023, only P3.5 billion has so far been utilized, while the remaining allotment of about P10.5 billion remains unobligated.
Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the chamber’s committee on public services, blasted this proposed additional fund.
“Here’s the problem: your utilization rate is very low. How come you’re asking for an additional budget? I mean, you’re trying to tell this panel that by the end of this year, you will have been able to utilize at least 70 percent, more or less, of your budget, but right now, we’re already in the ber-months. How [will you] be able to do that?” asked Poe in a mix of English and Filipino.
“What will you do then, cram and just pay? The agency still has unpaid debts,” Poe added.
Despite this grilling, the DICT maintained the need for an additional fund.
Asiddao likewise pointed out that nearly 70 percent of the DICT’s P13.9 billion budget in 2023 is already “in active procurement.”