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Infrastructure spending surges further

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Calungbuyan Bridge

STATE SPENDING on infrastructure and other capital outlays continued to surge in August, fueled by roadworks and acquisition of military equipment, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Tuesday.

In its latest disbursement assessment report, the DBM said that infrastructure disbursements and other capital outlays grew 70.5% to P68.4 billion in August from P40.1 billion in the same month last year.

“This increase was mostly due to the various projects implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); which include road widening, repair, and construction, flood control and drainage improvement projects, among others,” the DBM said in a statement yesterday.

“The modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines also contributed to the surge in spending with the procurement of military communication equipment.”

Disbursements for infrastructure and other capital outlays reached P505.6 billion as of August, up 49.8% from P337.6 billion in the same period last year.

This is equivalent to 65.21% of the P775.37 billion full-year program.

Sought for comment, Emmanuel J. Lopez, economics professor and dean of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Graduate School, said that the Duterte administration has been delivering on its infrastructure program. “The current data on capital outlays and operating expenses goes to show that the government is right on track with its spending on infrastructure facilities dubbed as the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program,” Mr. Lopez said in an e-mail yesterday.

Moreover, the DBM also noted that the remaining unreleased balance of the P3.767-trillion 2018 budget amounts to P269.1 billion, or 7.1% of the full-year appropriations.

It said the balance consists largely of P124.3-billion agency-specific budgets and P140.4 billion in lump-sum Special Purpose Funds (SPFs).

“Some of the big-ticket program balances under the regular budget of agencies include the remaining requirements for creation and filling of positions in the DepEd (Department of Education) and Educational Facilities Fund for implementation of the DPWH,” the DBM explained.

“Meanwhile, unreleased allotments from the SPFs are made up mostly of program balances from subsidy to government corporations, MPBF (Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund) and PGF (Pension and Gratuity Fund),” it added.

“We owe it to the Filipino people that implementing agencies immediately utilize the public funds that have been released to ensure the effective delivery of public services within the fiscal year. This is in accordance with annual cash-based budgeting that Congress should pass into law for future administrations to adhere to.” — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan

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