DPWH Strives for Balanced Budget in 2023, Focus on National Mandate and Programs

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Roger G. Mercado announced that the agency’s upcoming budget for fiscal year 2023 will concentrate on the Department’s national mandate that is growth-friendly to keep economic activity upbeat.

“Our aim is to formulate a 2023 budget that is anchored on DPWH basic mandate: to plan, design, and construct national roads, bridges and flood control projects and the maintenance and preservation of these infrastructure assets”, declared Secretary Mercado during the Unified Directors’ Meeting attended by the Undersecretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Regional, Service, Bureau and Project Directors held Saturday, January 22, 2022 in Clarkfield, Pampanga.

Secretary Mercardo instructed the Regional and Unified Project Management Office Operations to submit their proposed 2023 infrastructure program before January 31 to consolidate and review in time for the May 31, 2022 submission of proposed budget for the next fiscal year in accordance with national budget call per Memorandum Order No. 142 dated January 12, 2022.

The proposed 2023 budget will provide ample funding support for flagship infrastructure projects under the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Build Build Build Program.

In consultation with stakeholders including local officials and members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Regional and District Engineering Offices will adopt the bottom up approach in the planning process.

Secretary Mercardo also reminded the Regional and District Heads to take into consideration the increased resources of local government units as a result of the Mandanas Ruling by the Supreme Court.

Let us avoid duplicating the devolved functions and services of the LGUs and instead shift our focus on our mandate on national programs consistent with the strategies defined in the Department of Budget and Management approved devolution transition plan, added Secretary Mercado.

Secretary Mercado, in an unprecedented move thru Department Order 2 dated January 7, 2022 placed the overall supervision and control of the Planning Service to the Office of the Secretary to improve transparency and efficiency of the underlying processes of planning and programming of projects.

Previously under the direct command of Undersecretary Maria Catalina E. Cabral, the Planning Service is responsible for the formulation of the Annual Infrastructure Program for presentation to and approval of Congress.

The 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA) was approved with overall increased in amount for DPWH but suffered gargantuan cut on budget for core services of the Department specifically on national roads network development program, national bridge program, and national flood management program.

Non-infrastructure budget for routine maintenance of national roads and bridges and road safety facilities was also severely affected of the budget reduction.

The hefty amount slashed on DPWH infrastructure budget for core services in the 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP) was moved and channeled to the Convergence and Special Support Program (CSSP) consists mostly of Local Projects, which should be devolved to the Local Government Units in the light of the Local Government Code and Supreme Court ruling on the Mandanas case.

CSSP received ₱352.8 Billion appropriations or an increase of ₱146.3 Billion in 2022 NEP for a whopping 46 percent the total DPWH ₱767 Billion infrastructure budget in the 2022 GAA.

Also, the budget for the asset preservation of national roads was also more than doubled to ₱117.5 Billion in the 2022 GAA compared with the original submitted NEP of ₱63.3 Billion based on planning application known as Highway Development Management (HDM)-4 to generate annual economic analysis consisting of the prioritized list of needs-based asset preservation of the national road network.

Faced with great challenges arising from “disproportionate” allocation in 2022 to prioritized the funding of local projects are the implementation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects under Build Build Build Program.

The budget for flagship projects plummeted in the 2022 GAA compared to the higher share of ₱15.43 Billion in GAA for Local Programs, not enough to sustain implementation and will have impact on additional funds for late payments and price escalations and incur commitment fees and other charges.

Projects with completed detailed engineering design and ready for bidding will forego procurement due to limited resources to pay not even the claims for advance payment.

Secretary Mercado said that with the right plan, it becomes easier to draw up a 2023 budget that is lean but responsive, transparent, and in sync with what our government and people need in the context of local and national development.

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