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By Melissa Luz T. Lopez
Senior Reporter

Pernia: Spending to peak in 2nd half, goal ‘doable’

Posted on May 23, 2017

THE government’s infrastructure spending goal for 2017 is still “very much doable” despite slower disbursements during the first quarter, the country’s Socioeconomic Planning chief said noting that expenditures will peak in the final semester of the year.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia speaks before at the BusinessWorld Economic Forum on May 19, 2017 at Shangri-La at the Fort in Taguig City. -- BERNARD TESTA/INTERAKSYON
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the higher share of infrastructure at 5.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) programmed for 2017 will likely be hit despite slower spending growth seen during the first three months, signaling confidence that the government will be able to fully utilize the P847.2 billion allotted for these projects.

“It’s still very much doable because infrastructure spending will begin ramping up this year,” Mr. Pernia said in an interview on the sidelines of the BusinessWorld Economic Forum last Friday at Shangri-La at the Fort in Taguig.

“I think it (spending) will begin to pick up by the second quarter and accelerate during the third and fourth quarters.”

The economy clocked in a 6.4% growth during the January-March period, slower than expectations and falling below the state’s 6.5-7.5% target for the year. Dragging the overall figure is a mere 0.2% climb in government consumption, with economic managers blaming base effects after a spending surge during the same period in 2016.

Mr. Pernia said the tempered growth is a “very normal” trend following an election year, while noting that the Philippines remains among the fastest-growing in the world.

Economic managers have committed to spend P8.4 trillion on infrastructure projects over the next six years, as it looks to raise the share of spending on these items to 7.4% by 2022.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said separately that big-ticket projects “Build Build Build” initiative will likely contribute to economic growth within the second semester.

“Some of them will start by September this year. It takes a while, malalaking projects kasi yun (those are big projects),” Mr. Diokno told reporters separately.

Some 61 projects have been identified as priorities under the Build Build Build online portal, which include road links, bridges, ports, and mass transit systems nationwide.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo has said that the full rollout of the government’s “DuterteNomics” agenda can add between 1.5 and seven percentage points to overall growth, but will depend on the magnitude and pace of state spending.

The government is looking to spur economic growth to a high of 7-8% by 2022, while also trimming poverty and joblessness rates to record-low levels.