The total proposed budget for the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) for 2021 is P15.77B, now nearly three times higher than its appropriations for 2020 as it benefits from a P11.68-billion increase.

By the nature of the projects it implements, the MPW budget is mostly dedicated to capital outlays. There was an across-the-board increase in the MPW’s funds, most noticeably in the development of road networks and other public infrastructure, which indicates that the Ministry is gearing up for a bigger scale of project implementation in 2021.

The Road Network and Other Public Infrastructure Facilities Program has been broken up into sub-programs in the 2021 BEP, namely the Road Network Development Program, Bridge Program, Flood Management Program, Water Supply Program, Port Rehabilitation Program, and Other Infrastructure Program

Among these, Road Network Development accounts for 95.85% of the entire program’s budget, which means that the MPW intends to build, develop, and repair more roads in the region over any other form of hard infrastructure.

However, as the proposed budget for roads grew by roughly P11.66-billion B, the proposed budget for social services grew only by P1B; for health, only by P2B; and for labor and employment, only by P53.50M. As the effects of the pandemic are expected to be felt by the most vulnerable communities, many of whom are limited in their movement due to Covid-19 protocols, it may be prudent to increase the budget for basic services that will support those who are most at risk during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, learners across the region run the risk of getting left behind due to the shift in learning approaches and limitations in learning spaces. Additional funding might better serve programs linked to education and developing new strategies and approaches in response to the “new normal.”

While infrastructure spending has had multiplier effects on the economy in the past, the unprecedented effects of the pandemic must also be considered, namely travel limitations and loss of employment, among others.

However, if this much funding were to be allocated to the construction of physical infrastructure instead of human capital development, an assessment of the MPW’s spending in the past year is in order. Appropriating P15.57-billion for projects slated for 2021 means that there is confidence in the Ministry’s capacity to implement all of the projects for next year, despite the pandemic. Therefore, there is a need to review how much of the MPW’s budget under the 2020 BAA has been allotted, obligated, and disbursed, in order to justify the expectation that the Ministry can perform in accordance with its budget proposal.

This series of infographics is the ninth installment of the #BARMMBudgetWatch initiative of the Office of the Minority Leader.