DOTr chief vows to hike spending

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The Transportation department will be raising its internal spending target given concerns that government agencies are not using allocations provided under the national budget.

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“I am setting a higher internal target for DOTr (Department of Transportation) so as to pressure ourselves to perform better,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in statement during the weekend.

“If the Department of Budget and Management sets a 72% target on budget spending, ours will be 80%,” he added.

Tugade was reacting to Senator Loren Legarda’s criticism of the DOTr last week during budget deliberations at the Senate.

Legarda claimed the department had used just 18 percent of its P55 billion budget as of June and had also returned P11.5 billion in unspent funds to the Treasury last December.

Tugade said that his department was not at fault for the P11.5-billion underspending, which he blamed on the previous administration.

A total of P19.2 billion also remained unobligated when the Duterte administration assumed office in July last year, the department said.

The DOTr claimed that that in six months it had managed to obligate around P7-billion for projects with the blessings of the Commission on Audit.

“Government processes take time. There are procedures and submissions and they could get frustrating at times, but these processes are necessary to ensure that there are no abuses. But, I assure you that our projects are on track, even ahead of schedule,” Tugade claimed.

“There simply wasn’t enough time. We were given six months to spend what our predecessor failed to spend and government processes are not cut out for that. Procurement alone can take months and months, and even years,” he added.

The DOTr is proposing a P75.6-billion budget for next year.

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