PALO, Leyte—The Regional Development Council has endorsed the proposed P190.72-billion budget for 2018 of various government agencies in Eastern Visayas in a bid to attain economic growth, reduced poverty and recovery from devastating typhoons.
The members of the region’s highest policy-making body unanimously approved the proposal during its first quarter meeting here that concluded late Wednesday afternoon after two months of preparation and evaluation.
The approved outlay will be checked by the respective main offices of national government agencies prior to the budget deliberation by Congress. The target is to complete the budget preparation process before President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address on July 24, 2017.
Of the RDC-endorsed funds, P106.76 billion will be for social services sector, P68.91 billion for infrastructure and utilities sectors, P9.07 billion for economic sectors and P5.97 billion for development administration sectors.
Among the agencies with huge budget request next year are the Department of Education (P83.23 billion), Department of Public Works and Highways (P66.96 billion), Department of Social Welfare and Development (P10.36 billion), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (P4.82 billion), Department of Agriculture (P1.92 billion), and Department of Health (P1.33 billion).
Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez, RDC Eastern Visayas chairperson, said the council formed an advisory committee composed of 13 members of the House of Representatives in the region who will lobby for the approval of the budget requirement.
“We are counting on the help of our congressmen because we want all programs to be materialized,” Romualdez said.
Department of Trade and Industry regional director Cynthia Nierras, chairman of the RDC Economic Development Committee, said all RDC members, including private sector representatives, scrutinized all the proposed funds for next year.
“The RDC members have not asked for deduction of the proposed 2018 budget of agencies, but rather requested agencies to seek more funds to finance some activities to really attain economic growth,” Nierras said.
The recent budget scrutiny in the regional level was centered on new and scale-up programs and projects for next year.
Earlier, the RDC asked national government agencies to align their proposed 2018 budget to priorities under the 2017 -2022 Regional Development Plan.
“RDC inputs, recommendation and endorsement will ensure that there are fund allocations for regional development priorities along human, economic and infrastructure development, including that of the post-disaster rehabilitation and recovery needs,” the council said in a statement.
The RDC also asked agencies to consider programs and projects outlined as priorities in the new RDP.
The plan aims to promote inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction, income equality and recovery from devastating typhoons Yolanda and Nona, among others.