MANILA, AUGUST 19, 2007 (STAR) By Marvin Sy - Malacañang has allocated P7.4 billion in the proposed P1.227-trillion national budget for 2008 for flood control projects.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said that P6.6 billion of the P7.4 billion total, which is under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), would go to new flood control projects while the balance would be used to finance the repair and maintenance of the existing facilities.

Heavy rains in the past few days caused massive floods in Metro Manila and several other provinces across the country, underscoring the need for effective flood control.

As a result of the floods, classes in all levels in Metro Manila were suspended for three consecutive days.

Last Friday, Andaya also announced that the budget of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority for flood control in 2008 would go up by more than 100 percent, from P101 million to P256 million.

The responsibility for flood control in Metro Manila was transferred to the MMDA from the DPWH.

While the DPWH is the agency primarily tasked to handle flood-control programs across the nation, the MMDA’s mandate includes flood control for Metro Manila.

Andaya clarified that the DPWH budget for flood control is “outside of the fund local government may spend for similar activities.”

He said that the 17 percent increase in the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of the local government units would provide the local chief executives more funds for their own flood mitigation programs.

The IRA of the LGUs would go up from P183.9 billion this year to P210 billion next year.

In the case of the DPWH, Andaya noted that eight percent of its proposed P94.46-billion budget for 2008 would go to flood-mitigation projects.

Andaya noted that national road construction services would continue to take up the biggest share of the DPWH’s budget in 2008 with P60 billion of around 63 percent of its entire budget.

He pointed out that the amount would cover the construction of 2,364 kilometers of road, based on a preliminary estimate made by the DPWH.

Andaya said that P14.6 billion or about 15 percent of the DPWH’s total budget would be allocated for the maintenance of the national road network.

Around P7.4 billion of the road maintenance fund would be taken from the Motor Vehicle Users Charge or the Road Users Tax collected from the motorists.

Based on generic classification, Andaya noted that the bulk of the 2008 budget of the DPWH would still go to roads that would decongest traffic, with P9 billion and for addressing critical bottlenecks (P23.2 billion).

Roads to enhance tourism, on the other hand, would be allotted P4.8 billion.

Also included in the budget of the DPWH is an item described as roads to support peace and development in Mindanao and other conflict-affected areas, which would receive P6.7 billion.

Andaya said the areas where these roads will be built as well as the description and corresponding budget of other public works to be undertaken would be spelled out in the 2008 national budget.

Other infrastructure projects will be undertaken by other agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Communication for seaports and airports and the Department of Agriculture for irrigation and farm roads.

Combined construction activities, including equipment purchases and other capital outlay expenditures would reach P141 .4 billion next year, up by P21 billion from this year’s P120.4 billion level.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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