OVP set to deliver more with less

The Office of the Vice-President is asking the Congress for a smaller budget for 2017 while eyeing improved housing services, to be facilitated through better partnerships and improved institutional structures.

The Office of the Vice President (OVP) is proposing a 2017 budget of P428.618 million, notably 14.28 percent lower than the 2016 allocation for the executive office. Despite the smaller fiscal appropriation, it eyes a better and more focused delivery of services, particularly in the housing sector.

Frugal expenditures
Majority of the OVP’s proposed budget for 2017 is allocated for its maintenance and other operating expenses, which reflects a 20.46 percent dip from the previous year’s spending. The smaller budgetary requirement is largely due to the office transfer from the Coconut Palace to the Quezon City Reception House, bringing in monthly savings of P200,000.00.

Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Senator Loren Legarda also expressed concern over the possible effect on the Vice-President’s mobility, given the smaller budget. Vice-President Leni Robredo herself assured that it will have little implication on her availability, as it has been agreed that she will be accompanied by a lean staff and will only avail of modest accommodations during her travels.

Housing targets
Citing most recent housing statistics and backlog data, the Vice-President also stressed the need for stronger public-private partnerships and more efficient pooling of resources. As the head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), the OVP has committed to facilitating these necessary linkages and holistically addressing the backlogs by exploring other modalities and “revolutionizing housing policies”.

However, the needs of the housing sector go beyond fiscal resources; information sources and institutional and policy measures are also required to effectively respond to the issues of not just dwelling but also of employment and access to resources.

Among the priorities set by the HUDCC are: (1) culling of data from local government units (LGUs) to produce a harmonized inventory of government properties that may be used for housing projects; (2) implementing pipelined housing projects for the informal-settling families (ISFs), particularly in-city relocations; and (3) promoting the occupancy of structures already built (e.g., provision of utilities, if lacking). Other measures that are being considered by both the executive and legislative arms are the amendments to the Building Code and the formulation of a National Comprehensive Land Use Plan that is projected to encourage the private sector to engage more in socialized housing projects.

VP Robredo also admitted that they are “left with no clue” and that the organization is in “shambles” after most of the housing executives, with previous knowledge and background on the sector, were forced to resign following the order of President Rodrigo Duterte. She added that the HUDCC does not have express control over the key shelter agencies as they have their own mandate as government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).

In this connection, expediting the institutionalization of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD) was also raised. The formation of DHUD is seen to address the lack of information and the bureaucratic process, among others.
OVP budget over the years

The OVP, under then VP Jejomar Binay has seen massive hikes and cuts during his term. In 2012, it grew by 117 percent after P200,000.00 was allotted for priority programs and projects. It was again down to P217 million in 2014 after the cancellation of pork funds. In his last year in office, however, Binay was able to raise again his budget to a half-billion mark, the largest spike in the OVP budget since.

 

Table 1. Office of the Vice-President Budget, 2010-2016

Fiscal Year

Appropriated Budget

Difference (%)

2010

185,022,000.00

-

2011

185,107,000.00

0.05

2012

401,786,000.00

117.06

2013

416,575,000.00

3.68

2014

217,296,000.00

-47.84

2015

222,632,000.00

2.46

2016

500,000,000.00

124.59

 

The 2017 OVP budget has already passed the committee level at the House of Representatives. Last September 7, 2016, Vice-President Leni Robredo herself attended the Senate Committee hearing to present her office’s fiscal proposition.

Sources: Inquirer.net, PhilStar, Department of Budget and Management

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