GOVERNMENT SPENDING on infrastructure and capital outlays jumped in February with the completion of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) projects, as well as facilities of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of National Defense (DND).
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in its National Government Disbursement Performance report for February said that infrastructure and other capital outlays amounted to P50.5 billion, 44% more than P35.1 billion in the same month in 2017.
It also picked up from January’s P43.3 billion that saw a 25.2% year-on-year uptick. February’s reading was also the fastest pace since November 2017’s 44.8%.
The report said this was a “result of completed road infrastructure projects of the DPWH such as improvement and rehabilitation of dike systems, flood control and mitigation structures, and construction of roads, bridges and school buildings.”
It added that “[t]he higher infrastructure spending also stemmed from the acquisition of office building of the BIR Revenue Region VIII, the construction of dry dock facility of the DND-Philippine Navy, as well as the opening of Letter of Credit in connection with the COMELEC’s option to purchase of vote counting machines for the 2019 National and Local Elections.”
For the January-February period, infrastructure and other capital outlays grew 34.6% as the government spent P93.8 billion compared to P69.7 billion in the first two months of 2017.
The DBM noted that infrastructure and other capital outlays as a segment was a “major growth driver of government spending” in February, accounting for 20% of the total disbursements that month and 25% for the two-month period.
Overall disbursements in February amounted to P240.3 billion, 37% up from last year — the biggest increase since June 2014’s 44.1%.
Moreover, the Budget department said that spending likely sped up last month.
“Disbursements are also expected to further quicken in March as agencies seek to utilize their remaining cash allocations that have been fully credited during the quarter, since the same are only valid until the last working day of March,” the report read.
“In all, spending will remain upbeat owing to the implementation of various infrastructure projects and banner social programs, as well as from the settlement of billings and claims from prior year’s obligations.”
DBM said in a separate statement that it sought expanded US Export-Import Bank support for the Philippines’ infrastructure drive during consultations at the sidelines of this month’s World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings.
Thursday also saw the Department of Finance (DoF) saying that eight bridges connecting Luzon and the Visayas are advancing in the state approval pipeline.
“We will also look to build a number of large bridges that will link islands within the Visayas, as well as connect the Visayas islands to Luzon. Among these projects to be submitted to the Investment Coordination Committee are the construction of a bridge to connect Samar provinces to the main island of Luzon; a bridge connecting Leyte to Mindanao Island through either an Underwater Tunnel Bridge or a Long-Span Overhead Bridge; the Panay-Guimaras-Iloilo Link Bridge; the Bohol-Lapinig Island bridge; Cebu to Negros Link Bridge, and; the Cebu to Bohol Link Bridge,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a speech read for him by Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin during the third leg of the Philippine Economic Briefing in Cebu City yesterday.
Mr. Dominguez said that the government will push through with the construction of the New Cebu International Container Port this year, as well as improvements of the Iloilo International Airport and the Bacolod-Silay International Airport in 2019.
State infrastructure investments until 2022 are estimated to reach $170 billion, Mr. Dominguez said, as the government seeks overall economic growth of “seven percent or better” for 2018 that is seen to be “achievable.” The government also aims to cut unemployment rate to 3-5% by the end of its term in 2022 from 5.5% in 2016 and poverty incidence to 14% from 21.6% in 2015. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan