By Chino S. Leyco
The national government’s infrastructure spending accelerated in September this year in line with the Duterte administration’s catch-up program, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.
In a statement, the DBM said yesterday that the national government’s infrastructure and other capital outlay spending jumped by 54 percent in September to ₱100.3 billion from ₱65.2 billion in the same month last year.
“This growth, also the fastest this year for the category, is attributed to the full and partial completion of projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),” the DBM said.
Among the DPWH projects that boosted infrastructure disbursements during the month were construction, upgrading, repair, and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, and flood control structures, the DBM said.
The purchase of new military equipment under the Department of National Defense’s revised armed forces of the Philippines modernization program as well as the construction of a new Supreme Court building also gave a boost to spending, the budget department said.
But despite the surge in September, the national government’s infrastructure spending in the first nine-months of the year was still below target by 8.1 percent.
Based on the DBM report, actual expenditures on infrastructure at end-September stood at only ₱546.3 billion, lower than the ₱594.5 billion program.
Likewise, the actual infrastructure disbursements during the period were lower year-on-year by 4.3 percent from ₱570.8 billion.
“Spending fell below target for the period mainly on account of the delay in the passage of the fiscal year 2019 general appropriations act and election ban on public works at the earlier part of the year,” DBM said.
Last week, the Duterte administration’s economic managers expressed confidence 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 said the government was on track to disburse its ₱3.769 trillion budget for the year, noting that spending 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 said.
Last October 23, President Duterte’s economic development cluster (EDC), 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 budget.
As of September, the 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.
The Department of Transport 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.