Low budgets, turf issues hound DICT photo from Rappler

Low budgets, turf issues hound DICT

Sep 21, 2021, 8:04 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz


Information and Communication Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan let off steam during the budget deliberation of his agency’s proposed P9- billion budget for 2022 saying that most government agencies do not consult or seek advise from them because “they think we are interested in their budgets. But when they fail, they blame the DICT.”

Senator-turned Information and Communication Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan voiced his frustration at the low annual budgets his department has been given and the turf issues in the bureaucracy that hampered the infrastructure build-up, particularly during the perilous Covid-19 pandemic.

Honasan—who was instrumental in the 1986 ouster of strongman Ferdinand Marcos and coup plots against his successor— was appointed by President Duterte to head the newly-created agency, an offshoot of the former Department of Transportation and Communications, on July 1, 2019.

He vented his frustration during the Senate finance subcommittee hearing on his department’s proposed P9-billion budget for 2022, reported the Philippine Star.

He and other DICT officials lamented the apparent refusal of other agencies to accept the department’s assistance or advice to them, viewing them mostly with suspicion or outright resistance.

Asked by Sen. Francis Tolentino whether the DICT can help other agencies, like the Department of Health, in their inventory management of medicines and Covid-19 supplies, he replied:

“We noticed… that the one with limited appreciation for ICT-driven connectivity is government. It is as if they cannot yet fully understand that ICT is the future. Especially now with the pandemic, we don’t know when this will end,” Honasan told the sub-panel, chaired by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.

Honasan cited the case of DICT, which sought P34-billion appropriation for 2022, but only got a little over P9 billion at the proposed budget of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“We claim publicly in our speeches that we want to digitize to speed up things in government and end the lines and queues, yet there is subtle resistance,” he said.

Tolentino also cited the case of the Department of Education, which could not provide a clear and up-to-date record on its available textbooks yet insists on printing new ones.

But asked if concerned agencies coordinated or cleared with them their respective ICT projects, Honasan said they don’t but “if they fail, they often blame the DICT,” he added.

“They think we’re interested in their budgets. Our only interest is that we all follow the same end-to-end plan so there’s no waste,” he said.

Tags: #DepartmentOfInformationCommunicationsandTechnology, #2022budget, #GregorioHonasanIII, #bureaucracy, #digitalgovernance

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