Jan. infrastructure spending rises over 25% year on year

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INFRASTRUCTURE spending surged in January driven by the completion of some public works and the purchase of equipment for the modernization of the military, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said on Wednesday that the government spent P43.3 billion on infrastructure and other capital outlays in January, up 25.2%.

Total government spending was P228.7 billion in January, up 15.5% from a year earlier.

In a statement, the Budget department attributed the infrastructure spending growth on “completed projects by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the purchase of communication equipment as part of the Department of National Defense-Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program.”

The completed projects of the DPWH include school buildings, flood control and mitigation projects as well as lahar control works in Central Luzon.

Meanwhile, the government disbursed P61.9 billion in January on personnel services, up 22.4% year on year, after a rise in base pay for uniformed personnel as well as the implementation of the third tranche of the salary adjustment for civilian government workers.

Maintenance expenses also grew to P34.1 billion in January, up 19.6%.

“The strong growth in government spending reflects the reforms we have been implementing in the Budget department for the past two years,” Mr. Diokno was quoted as saying in the statement.

“We have a P3.8-trillion national budget for 2018 and we expect public spending to support our growth objective of 7% to 8% this year, especially with the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program,” he added.

The government is embarking on an P8-trillion infrastructure spending program until 2022 in an effort to spur economic growth.

Meanwhile, DBM said that 78.8% or P2.967 trillion out of the 2018 national budget was disbursed as of end-January, up from 65.7% a year earlier. The 2017 budget was P3.35 trillion.

“As of end-March, which is more recent, DBM has already released P3.165 trillion out of P3.767 trillion budget or 84% of the total,” Mr. Diokno added in a news conference yesterday.

The department attributed the quicker release of funds to its General Appropriations Act-Allotment-Release Order policy, making the bulk of funds available to the agencies as early as the first working day of the year.

The Budget department added that some P800.2 billion of the 2018 budget is still available to agencies, most of which are kept in the special purpose funds. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan