BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) imposed a limit on projects that will be funded under the proposed 2023 national budget for national programs consistent with the agency’s core mandate and following the program expenditure classification.
Under Department Order No. 07, series of 2022, excluded in the programs to be funded by the agency’s programs are those convergence and special support program, basic infrastructure program and other projects local in nature as these are composed largely of local projects with no national significance and should be assigned or devolved to the local governments.
Further, these programs must already be devolved to the local governments in the light of the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code and the Supreme Court ruling on the Mandanas-Garcia case and Executive Order No. 138, series of 2021, where local projects should not displace important national projects.
The DPWH stated that the funded national programs should include projects that will ensure safe and reliable national road systems, such as asset maintenance and preservation program; national road network development program; bridge program and those that protect lives and properties against major floods, such as flood management program.
Among these national programs, the highest priority and budget allocation should be maintenance and preservation of existing assets, such as for routine maintenance of national roads where the Bureau of Maintenance should provide the estimate of the needs for the entire national road system; for preventive maintenance such as overlay, selective re-blocking and for rehabilitation or reconstruction of damaged roads.
For the national road network development program, the programs and projects should be focused for widening, bypasses or diversion roads, road safety program, missing links or new roads, off-carriage program and others like flyovers or interchanges based on feasibility study.
In terms of the bridge program, the DPWH shall use the bridge management system in the planning service to identify and prioritize the replacement of weak bridges, retrofitting, rehabilitation, widening and new bridges, including inter-island link bridges which may require a concept paper, feasibility study or full-scale study depending on the magnitude of the project.
For the flood management program, the DPWH shall concentrate on major rivers and principal rivers. However, minor localized river control and drainage should be avoided as these should be devolved to the local governments.
In terms of absorptive capacity, the DPWH shall ensure that the 2023 appropriations must be fully spent during the year under the cash budgeting system and that the proposed funding for each project is prudently estimated and programmed so that it can be totally obligated and spent in 2023, allowing for the lead time for engineering, road-right-of-way acquisition and procurement as well as considering the actual disbursement record.
Based on project status, the order of priorities shall be those ongoing projects, especially those with active contracts should receive first priority over new ones, and the requirements for ongoing projects shall constitute Tier 1 to ensure that the proposed 2023 funding for these can be spent, and new projects which compromise Tier 2 where the funding requirements for 2023 and subsequent years should be realistic, considering the status and schedule of project approval, engineering design, road-right-of-way acquisitions and procurement.
On the other hand, foreign-assisted projects with approved loan or grant agreements or ongoing contracts should receive first priority as these are the government’s international commitments. The budget for the approved foreign-assisted projects should be ring-fenced or insulated from budgetary cuts. Other similar projects with loan or grant agreements under process should also get priority and the proposed schedule and funding requirements should be checked as doable, with allowance for the times needed for project processing, negotiations and procurement.
The DPWH underscored that each candidate project must pass the requirements before it can be included in the proposed 2023 budget proposal, such as the project must be endorsed by the planning offices and Regional Development Council (RDC) concerned; the project should be included in the agency’s medium-term public investment program and 3-year rolling infrastructure program; the project must be supported by sufficient justification under the applicable criteria; for a new project, it should be ready for implementation by 2023 as indicated by concept paper; the estimate cost of the project must be reasonable and within accepted benchmarks; the funding for the project can be realistically disbursed fully in 2023 and the project should be covered by a certification from the district engineer or the regional director endorsed by the Undersecretary concerned that the project meets all the requirements.