SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
House Members expressed hope that the P360 million budget allotted for the National Housing Authority (NHA) will still be increased as such amount is inadequate to address the housing backlog in the country which now stands at 3.6 million units.
During the plenary deliberation on the NHA budget for fiscal year 2019 this week, Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairman Alfred Vargas (5th District, Quezon City) lamented that the NHA, which requested for a P36 billion pesos budget for 2019 from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), was granted only P360 million, or approximately one percent of the budget that it proposed.
“I feel very sad that after defending this budget for three years, mas bumaba pa po. Imagine from P3 billion, the NHA budget from the national government will be down to P360 million,” Vargas said.
Rep. Ariel Casilao (Party-list, ANAKPAWIS) asked Vargas for the reason behind NHA’s budget cut.
Vargas stated that DBM assumed that the NHA is just like any other implementing agency when, in fact, cash based budgeting cannot be applied to NHA because it takes a long time to implement even just one housing project.
Rep. Lito Atienza (Party-list, BUHAY) asked if there has been any change in the NHA’s mandate that would justify the budget cut.
“NHA is the primary production unit of the government with regard to housing for the poor. Is it correct? Or have they changed their mandate?” Atienza asked.
Vargas said that NHA is the sole national government agency engaged in shelter production focusing on the housing needs of the lowest 30 percent of urban income earners.
Atienza asked that with only one percent of the budget they were asking for, will the NHA be able to assure the nation that they will be able to accomplish something for 2019.
“The budget is very critical. Pag may pera, may produksyon. Pag walang pera, walang produksyon,” Atienza said.
Rep. France Castro (Party-list, ACT Teachers) shared Atienza’s concern. “Sa ganitong budget for 2019, paano po natin matitiyak yoong security of housing para sa ating mga mamamayan?” she asked.
Castro said the budget cut was saddening because housing is one of the basic needs of every individual. “Kung wala pong pabahay para sa ating mga mamamayan, paano na po ito kasi katumbas ito ng pagkain o mga basic needs,” she added.
Vargas said that NHA will continue to produce socialized housing and affordable housing units with respect to the budget that is granted to the agency.
“The enormity of our housing problem cannot just be explained because it is a very big problem,” Vargas, sponsor of the NHA budget, said.
He said that to be able to solve the 3.6 million units housing backlog, in the long run, the nation will need around 10 trillion pesos. “As you can see, in the budget, the national government assistance to NHA as a GOCC was reduced by a huge number of 88.94 percent,” Vargas added.
According to Vargas, one way to ensure that, slowly but surely, the housing backlog is addressed is through efficient budget management, efficient collections, and through private sector partnerships.
“We should secure good partnerships with the private sector so that the backlog will be addressed not just by the national government, not just by the local governments, but also by private sector partnerships,” Vargas said. | Novel Paller