Meager budget for new housing dep’t lamented

IT is impossible to build more housing units with the meager budget given to the newly-formed Department of Housing Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

Members of the House Committee on Appropriations agreed that P6.29 billion is not enough to build 12,000 housing units in 2020.

Originally, the DHSUD targets at least 101,000 housing units for 2020 and requested a budget of P48.8 billion.

But the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only approved P6.29 billion.

According to DHSUD Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario, based on the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, their target should be 131,000 housing units per year hence, there is a disconnect between the PDP and the budget being given to the housing sector.

He said their target was to produce 101,000 housing units in 2020, but this will be drastically cut to 12,161 housing units since their DBM-approved budget was only P6.29 billion.

“Definitely with that budget, we could not reach our target. This is the sad state of the housing sector with the budget being given by the DBM,” Del Rosario said.

Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo said given the meager budget of the DHSUD, it would seem that the biggest losers are the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Social Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC). 

Quimbo said the NHA asked for a P33.5 billion budget, but was given only P3.2 billion while the SHFC asked for a 10.12 billion budget, but was given only P1.3 billion. “This is really a big one, I’ve never seen cuts as big as these,” Quimbo said. 

Quimbo said the SHFC’s utilization rate is a negative because actually the agency is using its own funds.

NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada said the reason given by the DBM for their lower budget is the absorptive capacity of the NHA.

Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco Benitez said it is disturbing to know that the housing agency’s budget proposal suffered a huge cut.

He said that population and development must go hand in hand, as in fact families and household serve as the lynchpin between population and development.

Deputy Minority Leader Bayani Fernando asked the housing agencies about the status of the planned relocation of 250,000 informal settler families in Metro Manila.

Fernando also asked about the status of funding for in-city relocation which is a more expensive option.