One of the nice initiatives that the government has made is rolling out several free WiFi sites for everyone to use. While there are supposed to be a total of 11,000 free public WiFi sites nationwide, the DICT revealed to Congress that only 3,900 of these sites are working.
The cause? The previous government did not renew the contracts for most of them.
“In 2018, when they started deploying the free wifi initially there were contracts for and it was deployed about 11,000 free wifi sites. Then when we came in July of 2022, we were surprised only 3,900 were active and the rest were not active, only to find out that in 2021, the allocation of the budget for free wifi, there was no procurement for the renewal,” DICT Sec. Ivan John Uy explained.
Aside from the fact that there was no procurement for the renewal of the free public WiFi sites to ensure they are working, Uy was also surprised that the unused funds were returned to the treasury.
Under DICT’s watch, the budget allocation for free public WiFi for 2023 has yet to be spent, and the DICT only used around 5% of its allocated funds as of May 19 of this year.
As for the underspending, DICT Assistant Secretary for Administration and Finance Heherson Asiddao points fingers at the previous administration for underspending for the much-needed service.
“As of the 1st half of 2022 or before we were appointed to our respected positions, that’s about July or around August, the utilization rate of the DICT is at about 19 percent. I would also like to highlight that at that point in time, the procurement rate of the department is barely at 8 percent,” Asiddao adds.