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Budget dep’t releases P13.7 billion in construction funds for Marawi, schools

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THE DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management (DBM) released P13.71 billion worth of construction funds in mid-November, to fund the building of schools, the reconstruction of Marawi city, the Metro Manila Subway, and right-of-way acquisition.

These include releases to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for Department of Education (DepEd) Basic Education Facilities worth P5.24 billion; P2.55 billion to pay right-of-way claims for property affected by the construction of the North Luzon Expressway-South Luzon Expressway Connector Road Project; and P730 million for right-of-way claims against the C-5 Northern Link Road Project, Phase 2, Segment 10 from MacArthur Highway, Valenzuela City to Malabon and C-3 Road Caloocan City.

The DPWH also received P990 million worth of funding support for the rehabilitation of Marawi City and surrounding areas.

The DBM also released P560 million to the Department of Transportation (DoTr) to help fund the implementation of the Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1.

It remitted P590 million worth of subsidies to the Philippine Postal Corp.

Budget releases totaled P3.629 trillion in the year to date as of Nov. 22, equivalent to 96.3% of the P3.767-trillion 2018 budget.

“The release of the budget to requesting agencies is subject to their compliance with the documentary requirements set by the DBM. To date, only P137.9 billion of the FY 2018 National Budget remains unreleased,” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in a briefing on Wednesday.

“There is absolutely no underspending to speak of. The government is ahead in its disbursements. In fact, we are slightly overspending,” Mr. Diokno said.

He said disbursements in the nine months to September were 2.6% above target.

After overspending, he expects government spending to normalize in the fourth quarter, without breaching the ceiling of 3% of gross domestic product.

“This improved rate of spending indicates quicker delivery of programs in health, education, and poverty-reduction and the faster implementation and completion of public infrastructure projects. Incidentally, Congress’ failure to approve the 2019 budget before the end of the year will be a drag on efforts in improving budget utilization and eliminating underspending and result in the delay of essential public services,” Mr. Diokno said. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan