Senate, House ends gridlock over 2018 budget for DPWH projects
The impasse over the Senate and House of Representatives’ version of the 2018 national’ budget has been resolved, with both chambers agreeing that the bulk of the P50.7 billion worth of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) projects would be restored.
“The good news is (the impasse) has been broken,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Davao City Representative Karlo Nograles said on Wednesday.
“(Last Monday), we came into an agreement that the budget cuts that were done by the Senate particularly on DPWH will no longer push through based on our meetings so that will not carry in the Bicameral Committee version,” Nograles said in a television interview.
Lacson, vice chairman of the Senate finance committee, proposed the P50 billion cut from the DPWH budget due to unresolved right-of-way (ROW) issues, which the plenary in the Senate approved.
According to Lacson, unresolved ROW issues were the “main culprit” for the DPWH’s “huge unused appropriations.”
The senator pointed out that there were also “John Does” and even “Unknown” claimants in the list of claimants who will be paid for the ROW.
“We’re finalizing still but much of the P50.7-B cut will be restored. So we’re looking at probably, maybe P4 billion to be cut,” Nograles said.
The two chambers are aiming to finalize and approve the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget so it could be sent to Malacañang on or before December 19 for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
The differences were ironed out after the DPWH and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) defended the retention of the budget.
“I think Monday the DBM and DPWH were able to explain very well that these were part of the Build Build Build program of the Duterte administration,” Nograles said.
Had the Congress pursued the DPWH budget cut, Nograles said it would greatly affect the infrastructure programs of the Duterte administration.
The bicameral committee also agreed to realign the P900 million budget of the anti-illegal drug campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the National Housing Authority (NHA) to fund housing projects for the military and police.
Also included in the amendments to the budget is the allocation of P20 billion to accommodate the increase in the salaries of soldiers, policemen, and other members of the uniformed service. /kga