MANILA, Philippines– The P109.88-billion budget next year of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its attached agencies—lower than the P145.36 billion proposed by the executive—has been approved by the Senate, except the budget of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
“We trimmed the fat and examined the DOTr’s ability to use it. We are in a pandemic and there are important items that the government must spend on. Historically, the DOTr has not been able to use up its budget. Even with the cut, the 2021 budget is still record-high and it’s a phenomenal increase from last year’s,” said Sen. Grace Poe, who sponsored the DOTr budget.
The House-approved budget, or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB), was at P125.36 billion which is also lower than the amount proposed by the executive.
“As you can see, we’ve trimmed a little more in the Senate so we can have room to maneuver. We achieved the cut while adding a P5-billion subsidy for those in the public utility vehicle sector,” Poe said.
“We need to scrutinize the budget and be more unforgiving when it comes to wastage. People are suffering and jeepney drivers have been without income for too long,” Poe said.
Some senators have expressed concern on the LTO budget that is under the Office of the Secretary of the DOTr which has a P91-million allocation. One of the issues is the much delayed delivery of license plates.
The budgets of the other agencies under the DOTr have been deemed approved. These are: the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) with P203 million; the Maritime Industry Authority with P765 million; the Office of Transportation Cooperatives at P36 million; the Office for Transportation Security at P338 million; and the Philippine Coast Guard at P13 billion.
Given that aviation took the hardest hit during the pandemic, the Senate also added P1.533 billion for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines which did not get any funding from the GAB or the National Expenditure Program. It also added P60.8 million for CAB. The Senate also approved the proposed P1.018-billion budget for the Light Rail Transit and a P1.23-billion budget for the Philippine National Railway.(