Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Francisco “Kiko” Benitez has sought the restoration of the original proposed P46.6 billion budget of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for 2021 to ensure that the agency will be able implement its programs for digital transformation to ensure business continuity, enable distance learning, and improve efficiency in the delivery of government services.
He said the DICT’s budget was slashed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to P10.9 billion or only 23.4 percent of its proposed budget.
“The budget cut will seriously undermine the capacity of the DICT to implement its programs for digital transformation, with far-reaching consequences on the country’s economic recovery,” Benitez, a member of the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology, said in filing House Resolution No. 1203.
Under HR No. 1203, he urged the House Committee on Appropriations, chaired by ACT-CIS partylist Rep. Eric Go Yap to restore the DICT’s P35.7-billion budget cut.
He said the DICT budget proposal covers funding for the implementation of the National Broadband Program which includes the roll-out of a nationwide network of fiber optic cables to bring affordable, secure, stable, and high-speed Internet connection to underserved and unserved areas.
The House leader said the DICT deserves more funding because it is the primary government agency responsible for policy making, planning, and implementation of programs to facilitate digital transformation in business and government, promote digital literacy, and ensure cybersecurity.
“The substantial reduction in DICT’s budget is counterintuitive to the recommendations of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to shift to a digital economy, where cashless payments, telecommuting, smart classrooms, and digital jobs drive productivity,” Benitez, the vice chairperson of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said.
He said if restored, the proposed P46.6 billion budget of the DICT is aimed at accelerating digital transformation in the country to adapt to the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need for digital transformation of our economy, education system, and bureaucracy to ensure business continuity and resilience, enable distance learning, and improve efficiency in the delivery of government services,” Benitez said.
“Digital transformation is imperative to adapt to and be competitive in a fast-changing world where great advances in technology are revolutionizing the production and distribution of commodities, and opening new markets, and revenue streams,” he said.