February 23, 2024

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Philippine ICT Department proposes digital transformation budget

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is seeking approval for its proposed budget to implement programs to accelerate digital transformation during the pandemic.

The budget totals PH ₱46.6 billion (US $941 million) for fiscal year (FY) 2021, according to the DICT Secretary, Gregorio B. Honasan II.

A press release quoted the Secretary saying that the proposed budget is in line with the goals of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Inter-Agency Task Force-Technical Working Group on Anticipatory and Forward Planning (IATF-TWG-AFP) to rebuild the economy and adapt to the ‘new normal’ of economic activity.

In its proposal, DICT allotted PH ₱22.1 billion (US $447 million), the biggest part of its proposed budget, for its digital connectivity and access programs, particularly, the National Broadband Program (NBP), the Free WiFi for All project (for public places, state universities, and college programs), and the Government Emergency Communications System.

Digital connectivity and access is the foundation of digital transformation. With secure and reliable internet connectivity for every Filipino, the department plans to implement programs and initiatives towards the digitalisation of various economic sectors, the Secretary explained.

The press release outlined the details of the budget:

  • DICT’s Digital Government initiatives were allotted PH ₱11.7 billion (US $236 million).
  • Digital Workforce and Digital Education were allotted PH ₱10.2 billion (US $206 million).
  • Digital Cities and Provinces were allotted PH₱ 55 million (US $1.1 million).
  • Cybersecurity was allotted PH ₱1.05 billion (US $21 million).
  • DICT’s internal programs were allotted PH ₱1.3 billion (US $26 million).

The proposed budget for FY 2021 is significantly much higher than its current budget for FY 2020, which amounts only to around PH ₱6 billion (US $121 million).

The Secretary added that the department hopes that both houses of Congress will approve the proposed budget for 2021, as now more than ever, the call for digital transformation is urgent.

He said that the country must use all its resources to fast track digital change to better adapt to the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In line with this, DICT Mindanao Cluster 1 (MC1) recently launched 20 WiFi sites in strategic areas of Isabela and Lamitan in Basilan. The department is promoting the use of ICT to enhance key public services like education, public health and safety, revenue generation, and socio-civic purposes for the goal of inclusive national growth.

As OpenGov reported, complementing the Free WiFi for All project, DICT also launched the Wireless Broadband Link from the DICT Zamboanga City Office to Isabela and Lamitan.

It built a tower in each city with IP radios to receive the bandwidth coming from Zamboanga.

The advent of cellphones and internet service providers has helped recuperate from limited access to communications services. However, the status of the internet in the province is weak, depriving much of the municipalities of these services.

The need for better internet connection is seen as necessary for the province to cope with the fast-paced exchanges of information related to COVID-19, and the online teaching approach of the Department of Education. The Zamboanga–Basilan Broadband Link of the DICT and the free WiFi is a welcome relief.

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