Although Malacanang is seeking a P5.2 billion increase that will bring next year’s flood control budget to P17.5 billion, a House leader said there is budget space that can further raise it to P25 billion .
“I think we can source another P7.5 billion for flood control without cutting any agency’s allocation or disassembling the proposed P2.0006 trillion 2013 national budget. Minor tweaking lang ang kailangan , “ Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III said today.
According to Tañada, the P7.5 billion can be sourced from the Unprogrammed Fund , the traditional source of presidential stand-by spending authority, which has been allocated P117.6 billion for 2013.
Another possible source is the P22.4 billion Priority Social and Economic Projects Fund (PSEPF) , a new feature of the budget which Tañada described “as some sort of a ‘holding area’ for funds for projects details of which have yet to be fleshed out by agencies.”
“P200 million has been earmarked for flood control in the PSEPF but this can still be increased to accommodate shovel-ready flood control projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority,” Tañada said.
The MMDA, Tañada added, “particularly needs augmentation because its proposed P300 million budget for flood control for 2013 is actually lower than this year’ budget of P322 million .”
Tañada said the passage of the Sin Tax Law, with the P30 billion in fresh revenues it will bring, “ will make any drawdowns from the Unprogrammed Fund possible.”
He explained that under the General Appropriations Act the fund can only be tapped if revenue targets are exceeded or when a new tax measure comes into stream.
“Based on these triggers, I would suggest that a fraction of the P30 billion projected income from the Sin Tax Bill be earmarked for flood control . It can be justified as dividends of the gin-drinking, cigarette -smoking people in flood-prone communities , “ Tañada said.
“This can be a one-time provision , good for one or a couple of fiscal years. After which, whatever funds given to flood control from liquor and tobacco taxes will go back to universal health care. In short, we’re just building a diversionary canal that will channel part of the stream from sin taxes to flood control, “ he said.
Based on the President’s budget for 2013 which he had sent to Congress, the DPWH is given P12.1 billion for “flood control and drainage projects, “ P3.5 billion in “foreign-assisted flood control projects”, P425 million for flood control right-of-way (ROW), P200 million for “rain collectors, “ P300 million for “other flood control projects,” among other flood mitigation activities.
Big-ticket items in the DPWH flood control fund are two packages of the Japan government assisted “Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project” with a 2013 combined budget of P2.33 billion.
Another foreign–assisted project is one that will be implemented in former President Arroyo’s bailiwick, the “Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Measures in Low- Lying Areas of Pampanga Bay”, which has a budget of P122 million next year.
Apart from the DPWH, other agencies getting flood control funds next year are the Pasig River Rehabilitation Council (P317 million), the Department of Agrarian Reform (P10 million), the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (P4 million).