Dominguez confident gov’t to hit 2019 spending target

The Duterte administration’s economic managers are confident that the national government will hit its spending program this year despite by the setback caused by the delayed passage of the budget and the election ban.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (DOF photo / Howard Felipe)

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (DOF photo / Howard Felipe)

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government is on track to disburse its ₱3.769 trillion budget for the year, noting the spending has already gained momentum in recent months particularly in September.

“To attain this target, the government needs to disburse ₱1.14 trillion or 30 percent this fourth quarter. Based on the updates of our main infrastructure agencies, we are confident that we are going to hit our spending target this year,” Dominguez told reporters.

On Wednesday, President Duterte’s economic development cluster, chaired by Dominguez, met where discussions mainly focused on the ₱725 billion catch-up spending plan to compensate for the nearly fourth-month delay of the 2019 general appropriations.

As of September, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), headed by Secretary Mark A. Villar, reported to the EDC that ₱424.7 billion of the catch-up spending program were already disbursed.

Villar then assured the EDC members that the remaining ₱300.3 billion will be disbursed as planned in the final three-months of the year.

Dominguez particularly noted that the DPWH is implementing reforms to effectively address right away issues and accelerate implementation of big ticket projects.

Among the main projects that the DPWH expects to inaugurate this year are the Central Luzon link Express project phase one, the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, Ciudad de Victoria interchange overpass bridge and the bypass road in Bulacan.

The Department of Transport (DOTr) also reported that of its ₱82 billion spending commitment this year, it has disbursed ₱43.7 billion as of September 3 and the agency expects the remaining ₱51.37 billion will be fulfilled this quarter.

Data from the Department of Budget and Management showed that infrastructure and other capital outlay in January to September amounted to ₱546.3 billion, or about 92 percent of the ₱594 billion program.

Meanwhile, Dominguez said that the national government will not exceed its 3.2 percent budget deficit ceiling this year.

On Monday, the Bureau of the Treasury reported that total government expenditures in September amounted to ₱415.1 billion, an increase of 39 percent compared with ₱298.6 billion in the same month last year.

The treasury attributed the strong double-digit rise in expenditures on the government’s program aimed at catching up the lost spending opportunity earlier this year due to budget delay.

Excluding the government’s interest payments, the primary expenditures last month reached ₱372 billion, up 40 percent from ₱265.9 billion in the previous year.

Along with spending, government revenues also improved by 17 percent to ₱236.5 billion in September from a year ago’s ₱202.4 billon. Of that amount, tax revenues jumped 15 percent to ₱211 billion, while non-tax rose 33 percent to ₱25.5 billion.

The significant rise in public spending last month has resulte ₱178.6 billion, a 85 percent increase year-on-year from ₱96.2 billion.

Meanwhile, public spending remained below the ₱2.684 trillion target in January to September 2019 by two percent to ₱2.627 trillion, but the year-to-date figure was already a 5.5 percent improvement compared with ₱2.49 trillion in the previous year.

But the treasury expressed confidence that spending will attain its goal this year, citing that 71.2 percent of the ₱3.77 trillion full-year program was already disbursed at end-September despite the budget delay and an earlier election ban.