By Chino S. Leyco
The country’s economic managers are confident of hitting the government’s spending target this year as President Rodrigo R. Duterte gave his go-ahead for the implementation of seven new infrastructure projects worth ₱187.34 billion mainly located outside Metro Manila.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, head of President Duterte’s economic team, said “We are confident that we are going to hit our spending target for this year” amounting to ₱3.77 trillion despite earlier’s budget delay and election ban.
Based on the report by the economic development cluster headed by Dominguez, public spending amounted to ₱2.938 trillion at end-October, or 78 percent of this year’s target.
“To attain our target disbursement of ₱3.77 trillion in 2019, the government needs to disburse ₱832 billion or 22 percent for the remaining two months of the year,” said Dominguez, who vowed to keep abreast with this spending rate.
The finance chief also revealed that government disbursements for infrastructure and other capital outlays reached ₱628.5 billion in the 10-month period, equivalent to 73 percent of the 2019 full-year program of ₱859.5 billion.
For this reason, Dominguez is optimistic that the country’s economy, as measured by its gross domestic product (GDP), will grow at a higher clip in November and December amid sustained spending on infrastructure and human capital development projects.
This means the Duterte administration will “make up for underspending earlier this year as a result of a reenacted budget.”
“Overall, we remain on track to reach our GDP growth target of 6 to 7 percent in 2019,” he assured.
To support the infrastructure spending, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Duterte has also approved seven new projects amounting to ₱187.34 billion.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said that five of these new projects will be implemented outside Metro Manila in line with their plan to “develop growth centers in the regions and maximize the economic benefits of connectivity of communities.”
These projects include the Davao public transport modernization as well as two unsolicited proposals for the New Bohol Panglao International Airport, and build-operate-transfer plan for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The Davao public transport modernization project involves the delivery of a modern, high priority bus system (HPBS) for the southern city, while New Bohol International airport covers operations and maintenance as well as enhancement of the airport.
On the other hand, NAIA rehabilitation project will address Metro Manila’s main air gateway’s capacity issues and cover the renovation of its existing terminals as well as the enhancement of its operation and management.
The other four new projects include Pasacao-Balatan coastal tourism highway, Samal Island-Davao City connector, Camarines Sur high-speed highway and the development objective assistance agreement covering the health services for underserved Filipinos.