House appropriations committee chairman Karlo Nograles on Wednesday said the proposed PHP50-billion cut in the 2018 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for right-of-way (ROW) acquisitions was scrapped following a bicameral meeting to break the impasse.
According to Nograles, the DPWH and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) told lawmakers that the proposed funding cut may adversely impact the administration’s massive infrastructure program, “Build Build Build.”
“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.
“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. And doing those cuts… will really affect the infrastructure program of the DPWH and the administration,” he added.
Nograles said the PHP50-billion budget cut would be whittled down to just PHP4 billion.
“We’re finalizing still but much of the PHP50.7-B cut will be restored. So we’re looking at probably, maybe P4 billion to be cut,” he noted.
Senator Panfilo Lacson has pushed for the PHP50.7-billion cut in the DPWH budget due to unresolved ROW issues, which he said was the “main culprit” for the huge underspending of the agency. This proposal resulted in a budget impasse.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said the House would take a hardline stance on its version of the proposed 2018 national budget even with the possibility of a reenacted budget in the offing.
“The good news is it (impasse) has been broken,” Nograles said, noting that the two chambers must have the 2018 national budget ratified before Congress goes into a Christmas recess so that President Rodrigo Duterte may sign it on or before December 19.
“Passing the 2018 GAB before year’s end will avoid the scenario of a reenacted budget,” he added. (PNA)