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Infra, capital spending drops by 56% in April

June 15, 2019

Govt expenditures in first four months reached almost P1T

STATE infrastructure and capital spending fell to P28.3 billion in April on account of the late implementation of public-works projects.

In a report on Friday, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the amount was a 56.3-percent decrease from P65.6 billion in the same month last year, dragging down the year-to-date tally by 7.3 percent year-on-year to P206.4 billion.

“Although infrastructure spending increased for the first quarter of 2019 due to the payment of prior years’ accounts payables for completed infrastructure projects, disbursements in April 2019 were lower year-on-year, as some infrastructure projects were not started following the late budget approval and election ban,” it explained.

Workers demolish a portion of Marcos bridge in Marikina City. The bridge, which is under renovation, was closed in May. PHOTO BY ROGER RAÑADA

A dispute between the Senate and the House of Representatives over alleged insertions resulted in a four-and-a-half-month delay before legislators finally agreed to approve the 2019 outlay.

Before the approval, the government was forced to operate on last year’s budget, unable to spend on projects and programs supposed to be implemented this year. This resulted in gross domestic product (GDP) growth to post a lower-than-expected 5.6 percent in the first quarter.

Government spending was banned from March to May because of the May 13 midterm elections, which saw many Duterte administration-backed candidates winning.

The January-to-April figure put total national government spending — which includes expenditures for maintenance, personnel services and subsidies — at P999.8 billion for the period, up 3.2 percent or P33.4 billion from the amount in the same period last year.

The Budget department has said it expects government spending to normalize in the coming months, especially after the election ban and the signing of the new budget.

DBM releases P1.557T

It also reported that it already released P1.557 trillion of this year’s P3.757-trillion budget, covering different agency-specific budgets to cover their expenditure requirements and enable them to start implementing new programs, activities and projects.

Some P255.1 billion in agency-specific budgets and P394.2 billion in special purpose funds are yet to be released for the rest of the year, the department said.

“This will be done upon submission of special budget requests and additional supporting documents by the line agencies.” it added.

The DBM also highlighted the catch-up measures initiated by the Economic Development Cluster, which aims to mitigate the effects of the reenacted budget and meet this year’s spending target and GDP growth.

“For instance…the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation Rail Sector have committed to accelerate implementation of big-ticket infrastructure projects and spend P725.0 billion and P78.0 billion on infrastructure expenditures, respectively, to support the government’s target of 4.2 percent of GDP infrastructure spending of national government agencies, and at least 6.0-percent economic growth this year,” it said.

In the case of the Department of Education, it was said that the agency had been doing regular collaboration sessions with program teams and constant monitoring of performance of its major and big-ticket programs to ensure that these are continuously implemented.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DoH) was said to have prioritized the following Health Facilities Enhancement Program projects: 100-percent completed infrastructure to be equipped with human resource; and 70-90 percent completed, but needing additional funding and other infrastructure projects with phased implementation.

“The department has, likewise, established a project management team in all its Centers for Health Development and DoH hospitals to track monthly physical and financial performance/accomplishment,” the DBM said.

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