The Regional Development Council (RDC) VIII endorsed P144.9 billion worth of proposed programs and projects for inclusion in the FY 2021 budget proposals of Agency Regional Offices (AROs) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) during the 1st Quarter 2020 RDC VIII Full Council Meeting on 11 March 2020 at The Oriental Leyte, Palo, Leyte.

Of the total 9,865 proposed programs and projects endorsed during the meeting, the bulk was under the Social Development sector which includes the SUCs (6,725), followed by the Infrastructure and Utilities sector (2,824), Economic Development sector (176), and Development Administration sector (140).

Infrastructure and Utilities sector accounted for most of the endorsed budget proposal at 82.34%, followed by Social Development at 12.56%, Economic Development at 3.22%, and Development Administration at 1.88%.

In addition, the Council also endorsed an additional P14.4 billion worth of projects for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) VIII, and P339 million for the Department of Agriculture (DA) for implementation this year from Congress-introduced increases in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) categorized under “For-Later-Release”.

Under DBM rules, the endorsement of the RDC is a prerequisite for the release of the “FLR” projects for FY 2020.

Meanwhile, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino was present to provide advice on how agencies can improve their chances for the inclusion of their priority programs and projects in the FY 2021 budget. He also gave some tips on the implementation of Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC)-related projects.

The proposed budgets were first thoroughly reviewed and endorsed by the four (4) sectoral committees of the RDC VIII before being presented to the Full Council.

The endorsement came after weeks of painstaking review by the Council that included the tripartite review/consultation, in coordination with NEDA VIII and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) VIII, to ensure that the proposed programs and projects are aligned with regional priorities embodied in the Eastern Visayas Regional Development Plan (EV-RDP) 2017-2022, and its companion document – the EV Regional Development Investment Program (EV-RDIP) 2017-2022, and are implementation-ready.

The endorsed agency budgets will be submitted to the respective Central Offices while those of the SUCs will be submitted to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for inclusion in their respective budget proposals for FY 2021.

Other matters tackled during the meeting include (1) the Endorsement of the Master Plan for the Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Development of Metro Ormoc; (2) Presentation of Regional Task Force (RTF)-ELCAC 2019 Accomplishments; (3) Updates on COVID-19 in Eastern Visayas; and (4) Various Sectoral Committee Concerns.

Article and photo by:  Knulp Aseo, NEDA VIII