THE Senate Committee on Finance on Thursday raised concerns over a lump-sum P1.1-billion subsidy for the electrification of sitios and barangays under the 2020 budget of the Department of Energy (DoE).
The panel cited the Department’s lack of master plan for achieving the administration’s 100% electrification goal by 2022.
“Right now, it’s ‘pork barrel,’ ‘lump sum,’ whoever gets to lobby with you, ‘yun ang mabibigyan (that is the party that will receive the funds),” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said during the department’s budget hearing Thursday.
The subsidy for sitio electrification is expected to cover 775 sitios or a total of 460,000 households.
Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chaired the hearing, asked the DoE for its comprehensive electrification strategy while questioning a P500 million proposed allocation for electrification.
“From my point of view, the lump sum fund has already been given out arbitrarily, yet, we don’t have a strategy to guide (spending),” Mr. Gatchalian said.
“That’s why I was asking you to submit the Department’s total electrification program plan.”
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the department has required cooperatives to submit their master plans for energizing their areas covered in their franchise.
“What we are doing now is we are collating the master plans made by the respective cooperatives,” Mr. Cusi said.
The 2020 National Expenditure Program allocated P2.302 billion for the DoE in 2020, of which 1.148 billion will fund maintenance and other operating expense, P521 million for capital outlay and 580 million for personnel services. — Charmaine A. Tadalan