THE eight-fold increase in the proposed 2021 budget for the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) seeks to hasten the country’s digital transformation to cope with the adverse effects of the pandemic, according to Information Secretary Gregorio Honasan.
From the 2020 budget of a little over P6 billion, the proposed DICT budget for 2021 is being raised to P46.45 billion, of which P13.5 billion would go to digital infrastructure, which include laying down the national fiber optic cable.
“The new normal requires work from home arrangements in the labor sector and the shift to online learning for students in the education sector. For the people used to face-to-face interaction, the measures were nothing short of extreme in order to contain the virus,” Honasan said.
Honasan acknowledged the sudden increase in demand for digital access, but said the government has to provide the environment to enable private telecommunications firms to meet new demands for digital connections
The DICT has to pursue the task to lead the digital transformation in an environment which is too lopsided by all standards: first, internet penetration, per survey by the National ICT Household Survey partnership with Philippine Statistical and Research Institute, was 17.7%, while TV’s stood at 82.7% in 2019, Honasan said.
The national estimate for individuals using a cellphone is 78.7%, while for people using the internet, the percentage is 43%, Honasan added.
In contrast, a large percentage of individuals, or 90.9% watch TV and only 21.2% of the people have access to government websites on the internet.
“Digital access is way behind than access to traditional media,” Honasan said.
The DICT action plan includes raising bandwidth, strengthening resilience and security of networks, and managing congestion and connecting vital services and ensuring the continuity of public services to safeguard the people’s welfare.
It also includes support for the most impacted businesses and communities, promotion of trust, security, and safety online; and leveraging the power of mobile big data.