TACLOBAN CITY- The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is hoping to improve its budget utilization rate for Eastern Visayas projects this year despite bottlenecks that are out of the agency’s control.
DPWH Regional Director Nerie Bueno said they have mapped out plans to fast-track spending this year after seeing reports that only P17.32 billion or 41.95 percent of the P42.64 billion allotment last year has been disbursed as of Dec. 31, 2018. The figure is way below than the 70 percent to 75 percent ideal budget utilization rate.
“The regional office is fully aware of the problem and we have to address it in 2019. We don’t want to commit the same mistakes over and over again,” Bueno told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday.
Although P41.29 billion or 96.84 percent of the 2018 outlay has been obligated, actual disbursement remains low due to some factors considered by DPWH as out of their control.
These include bad weather, insufficient workforce provided by the contractors, road right of way acquisition issues, difficulty on transportation of construction materials and scheduling of equipment, peace and order problem in Samar Island, and repeated bidding failures.
“Some contractors are not interested to build infrastructure in remote areas because they have many choices with a lot of projects being rolled out under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program. Road right of way problem is major setback since we have to talk to people and deal with a lot of legal issues,” Bueno added.
Last year, the region completed 716 out of the 1,040 regular projects listed under the 2018 General Appropriations Act. Some 271 projects were ongoing while 52 others have not yet started as of Dec. 31, 2018, according to DPWH records.
To curb project delays in the future, the department has started pre-detailed engineering activities as early as first quarter of 2019 for projects programmed in 2020.
For 2019, the DPWH is eyeing a P27.62 billion budget under the 2019 National Expenditure Program. The proposal went up to P61.11 billion in 2020.
No single project for 2019 has started its construction this year due to pending approval of the 2019 budget bill after months of budget deadlock as Senate and House of Representatives failed to reach consensus.
The 2019 proposed budget has been submitted to the President for scrutiny but Malacañang could not say when it will be signed.