GOVERNMENT spending grew by more than a third in September, with year-to-date totals still behind target, the Bureau of the Treasury said, citing preliminary data.

Deputy Treasurer Sharon P. Almanza said total expenditure rose 34.6% last month, driven by subsidies to state-owned firms and increased spending by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Education (DepEd).

“For September, the preliminary data based on our cash flow indicates (growth of) around 34.6%. year-on-year for September. It’s mostly driven by subsidies to GOCCs (government owned and controlled corporations) and then higher spending by DPWH and DepEd,” Ms. Almaza told reporters during a media roundtable on Wednesday evening.

However, she noted that spending in the nine months to September was 6.7% short of targets.

“It’s still below program. Around 6.7%. The difference between actual and program, from January to September (is 6.67%),” she said.

The BTr reported late last month that total expenditures in August grew 8.78% to P282.2 billion. Primary expenditures, netting out interest payments, picked up by 13.61% to P262.6 billion.

This brought the eight months spending total to P2.212 trillion, up 0.94%, which reversed the 0.11% contraction in the seven months to July.

The Finance department’s chief economist Gil S. Beltran said spending should grow by at least 30% from September to December to hit the P3.662 trillion expenditure program set this year.

“September to December, dapat (needs to be at) 30%,” Mr. Beltran told reporters.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has said infrastructure spending is picking up, and has benefited from favorable weather, which minimizes construction delays. — Beatrice M. Laforga