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DBM raises budget for ROW acquisition

In a press briefing yesterday, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the DBM has increased the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for ROW payments to P34.9 billion from P32.6 billion last year. Philstar.com/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has raised the government’s 2018 budget for the right-of-way (ROW) acquisitions to P34.9 billion.

In a press briefing yesterday, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the DBM has increased the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for ROW payments to P34.9 billion from P32.6 billion last year.

Diokno said the amount was also a significant improvement from the ROW funds earmarked for both agencies in 2015, which stood at P4.2 billion.

“The combined ROW allocation for the DPWH and DOTr has surged from P4.2 billion in the 2015 GAA (General Appropriations Act) to P32.6 billion in the 2017 GAA. In the 2018 GAA, this is even higher at P34.9 billion with the DPWH and DOTr receiving P20.5 billion and P14.4 billion, respectively,” he said.

In a separate press briefing, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said the Duterte administration has made steps to strengthen the institutional support for ROW acquisitions to fasttrack the implementation of big-ticket infrastructure projects.

Aside from the budgetary support from the DBM, Villar said the DPWH and the DOTr have created task forces to increase inter-agency coordination in addressing ROW issues.

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“That’s a very significant development. It hasn’t been done before,” he said.

In addition, Villar said the DBM has also committed to support the agency in beefing up the DPWH’s legal division with competent lawyers who can focus on ROW acquisitions.

He said the DPWH’s cooperation with the National Housing Authority (NHA) also continues to facilitate the resettlement of displaced residents.

“We download funds to the NHA and they build houses. And they have existing inventories that we can utilize for our resettlement plans,” he said.

Earlier, the Department of Finance (DOF) said the government has created an inter-agency team to address bottlenecks in the implementation of infrastructure projects in the country.

This project facilitation team includes officials from the DOF, DBM, DOTr, DPWH, and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to address problems in project implementation, including right of way issues.

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