By Lorenz S. Marasigan, July 10, 2020; Business Mirror

As digital becomes an integral part of the “new normal,” the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is pushing for the approval of its proposed P46.6-billion budget for 2021.

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said the budget will help “effectively implement the department’s strategic programs towards digital transformation in the new normal.”

Under its proposal, the DICT seeks to allot P22.1 billion for its Digital Connectivity and Access Programs, which include the National Broadband Program (NBP), the Free WiFi for All in Public Places and State Universities and Colleges Program, and the Government Emergency Communications System.

“Digital connectivity and access is the foundation of digital transformation. It is only with a secure and reliable Internet connectivity for every Filipino can we implement programs and initiatives towards digitalization in various sectors of our society,” he said.

Roughly P11.7 billion will also be allotted to digital government initiatives, while P10.2 billion for digital work force and digital education projects, P55 million for digital cities and provinces programs, P1.05 billion for cyber security, and P1.3 billion for internal programs.

Honasan’s proposed budget is significantly higher than the P6-billion budget that it received this year.

“We hope that both houses of Congress will approve our proposed budget for 2021. Now more than ever, the call for digital transformation has never been more urgent. We need all the resources to fast-track the country’s digital transformation for us to better adapt to the new normal brought by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

He added that the proposed budget is in one with the goals set by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), as well as the Inter-Agency Task Force-Technical Working Group on Anticipatory and Forward Planning, both of which are looking at ways to rebuild the economy during the new normal.