DBM, DPWH in limbo on P6-B savings

By Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 13 2014 03:06 AM | Updated as of Aug 13 2014 11:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are in a quandary over the use of at least P6 billion in savings the latter has generated.

Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson told the House appropriations committee chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab yesterday that he had requested the DBM for authority to use his agency’s savings.

However, he said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad is still weighing whether to approve or reject his request in the light of the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as unconstitutional.

He noted that in its ruling, the SC would want the government to declare and use savings only toward the end of the year.

Singson said savings would be useless if made available to agencies only in November or December.

“These funds have to be used in a timely manner. As it is, we start realizing savings as early as January when we begin awarding contracts. These savings are generated from the bidding process, which usually result in contract costs that are lower than project appropriations,” he said.

He said savings are also realized when projects are abandoned.

Citing specific examples, Singson said his department has junked a road project in Cebu “because the local government unit has withdrawn the tree-cutting permit they gave us.”

“I don’t want to fight them over this. I would rather that the project and its funding be realigned. Those funds are already savings,” he added.

Another example he cited is the rehabilitation of Edsa in Metro Manila.

Singson said because of numerous complaints about traffic congestion when several parts of Edsa are being repaired, he has requested the DBM that some funds be declared as savings and realigned to other projects.

However, he pointed out that the SC ruling on DAP disallows the use of savings at midyear.

“We want to be allowed to use these funds. We are seeking the help of Congress,” he said.

At least one congressman, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, has filed a bill allowing the use of savings on a quarterly basis.