The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the proposed 2021 budget for the National Broadband Program (NBP) is thrice the amount set for this year, as the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) seeks for an even higher budget.
Wendel Avisado, DBM secretary, said at the virtual 2020 Open Budget Survey on October 9 the proposed 2021 budget for the NBP was increased to P900 million from P300 million this year.
The DICT is requesting a budget of around P18 billion for the completion of the government’s own broadband network through the NBP.
The DICT said in an earlier statement the proposed budget of around P18 billion is set to cover the Philippines by 2022 under the program’s second phase.
“All that we’re saying really is please spend your money first. And then when you’re short, let us know. And then we will add up to your requirements,” Avisado said This is three times… the 2020 budget. The program aims to address problems in internet speed and affordability,” Avisado said in a transcript from the event.
He said the DBM is also looking at the capability and absorptive capacity of the implementing agencies.
“Because we are under cash budgeting regime, meaning that as we release to you the funds at the onset, you have to spend all of these at the end of the year. Otherwise they will automatically revert to the national treasury,” he added.
According to Avisado, the Wi-Fi Program, which aims to provide internet access to the public, was also increased by 91 percent to P2.1 billion from P1.1 billion this year.
“We also have other programs that leverage on ICT. To have some database in responding to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). And some P21.4 billion will likewise be allocated for the Medium-Term Information and Communications and Technology Harmonization Initiative expenditures,” he said.
Avisado said part of that amount is P9.4 billion for ICT sustainability expense, P1.9 billion for ICT support for financial inclusion and P2.5 billion for other ICT expenses under governance.
“There’s an effort on the part of government precisely to cope up with the need of the times, in terms of utilizing the latest Wi-Fi technology and internet connection,” he said.