HIGHER infrastructure and other capital spending grew by double digits in November, buoying year-to-date results and prompting the Budget department to claim that the government was successfully pursuing its “Build Build Build” program.
Spending totaled P62.9 billion during the month, up 43.6 percent from the P43.8 billion recorded a year earlier.
November’s expenditures brought infrastructure and capital spending to P728.1 billion in the first 11 months of 2018, 49.7 percent higher year on year.
The Budget department, in a statement, attributed the month’s result to “completed road infrastructure projects by the Department of Public Works and Highways, repair and rehabilitation of school buildings and facilities of the Department of Education and state universities and colleges, and acquisition of medical equipment of the Department of Health.”
Infrastructure spending as well as maintenance expenditures buoyed overall government spending to P298.8 billion, up P46.7 billion or 18.5 percent from the same month last year.
The November figure boosted total national government spending to P3.095 trillion for the first 11 months of the year, P601.7 billion higher compared to the same period last year.
“We have an expansionary fiscal policy so we can upgrade our public infrastructure, as well as provide our people with quality and accessible healthcare, education, and poverty-reduction programs,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said in the statement
“With the pace of public spending, it is clear that the government is following through with its ambitious plans, especially ‘Build Build Build’,” he added.
The government is banking on a massive infrastructure push via the “Build Build Build” program to propel economic growth, which economic managers recently revised to a lower 6.5-6.9 percent for 2018 from 7.0-8.0 previously.
The Budget chief also expressed optimism about full-year 2018 expenditures.
“Public spending remains robust as we’ve managed to channel more resources to the government’s priorities,” he said.
On Wednesday, Diokno said spending on infrastructure likely settled slightly below the government’s 2018 target but also claimed that the government was no longer underspending — a charge levied against previous administrations.
Infrastructure spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have hit 6.2 percent last year, almost triple the average of 2 percent from 1986 to 2016 but just under the target of 6.3 percent.
“The 2018 full-year numbers, including the assessment of national government disbursements, should be out by the first quarter of 2019,” Diokno said.