SENATOR Sonny Angara yesterday said to better equip the government to a world becoming more digital and interconnected, the budget of the Department of Information and Communications (DICT) was granted an increase of P6.2 billion under the 2020 General Appropriations Act.
From the P3.7 billion in the National Expenditure Program that was submitted by Malacañang to Congress last year, the DICT’s 2020 budget was hiked to close to P10 billion in the P4.1 trillion GAA.
Angara, the chairman of the Committee on Finance, noted how the budget of the DICT has been increasing over the years -- from P2.9 billion in 2017, it increased to P4.7 billion in 2018 and to P6.2 billion in 2019.
“The world is quickly moving towards the digital age. The government has to keep up with the demands brought about by this shift. Tech-savvy Filipinos demand this, which is why the DICT, as the agency in charge of all things related to IT, was granted a bigger budget to undertake the programs needed to make this happen,” Angara said.
The DICT will be tasked to make classrooms, workforces, workplaces and communities digital, meaning they have access to the Internet and mobile forms of communication. Funding for the establishment of infrastructure for a national government data center will also be made available.
The national government data center will serve as the launching point for many government services such as cloud computing, web hosting, server colocation and other operations.
“When agencies and offices are able to communicate with each other real time, more work can be accomplished at a faster pace and all of this will mean better service for the public and the taxpayers in particular,” Angara said.
The budget will also support the implementation of the Government Emergency Communications System (GECS).
The GECS is intended to provide emergency communication systems in disaster-stricken areas because when earthquakes, typhoons or even volcanic eruptions strike, one of the biggest problems faced by aid responders is that the lines of communication are down.
“One of the most important things that we need when disaster strikes is constant communication with the affected areas. The responders need to know the situation on the ground and what is needed by the communities,” Angara said.
As part of the efforts to streamline government procedures, the DICT budget will also contain funding for the development of the National Government Portal (NGP).
The NGP will serve as a one-stop gateway for all web-based government content so that citizens and businesses in particular will be able to have access to information useful to them without having to navigate through different and often unintuitive web pages.
Implementation of the Free Wi-Fi in public places and in the state universities and colleges will continue and will cover more areas.
Connectivity will not be possible though without a fast and reliable internet connection in all parts of the country, which is why funding was also provided for the DICT to implement the national broadband program.
The National Telecommunications Commission, which is under the DICT, was also granted an additional P3.321 billion for its general administration and support, the implementation of its National Emergency Communication Resiliency Program, and ICT modernization program.