THE CASH utilization rate of government agencies hit 97% at the end of September, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.

Data from the DBM showed that the National Government, local governments, and state-owned companies used P3.09 trillion of the P3.18 trillion worth of notices of cash allocation (NCA) issued as of the end of the third quarter. This left P83.5 billion in unused allocations.

The budget utilization rate was slightly behind the 98% rate a year earlier.

NCAs are a quarterly disbursement authority that the DBM issues to agencies, allowing them to withdraw funds from the Treasury to support their spending needs.

At the end of September, line departments used P2.25 trillion or 97% of their allotments, leaving P81.36 billion unused.

The agencies that posted a 100% budget usage rate at the end of the third quarter were the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Judiciary, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, the Commission on Elections, Office of the Ombudsman, and Commission on Human Rights.

On the other hand, the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the Department of Migrant Workers posted the lowest use rate at 40%.

Budgetary support to government-owned companies was 99% used, while allotments to local government units (LGU) had a 100% utilization rate.

ING Bank N.V. Manila Senior Economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa said the use rate at the end of the third quarter was slightly lower than a year ago.

“The government continues to experience growing pains with regard to new regulations with spending. Hopefully this reverses soon, given that we will be needing more support for growth from government spending,” he said in a Viber message.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the utilization was slightly lower than last year, which included election-related spending.

“Higher prices and interest rates increased financing costs, which bloated some of the government’s expenditures that may require higher budget allocation,” he said in a Viber message.

In the first nine months, inflation averaged 6.6%, still above the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) revised 5.8% full-year forecast.

The BSP has kept the key interest rate at a near 16-year high of 6.25% for four straight meetings. 

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno earlier said he expects growth to be “much better” in the second half due to improved government spending.

In the second quarter, state spending contracted by 7.1%, a reversal of the 6.2% growth in the first quarter and 10.9% a year ago.

Earlier this month, several departments presented their catch-up plans for spending to the Economic Development Group. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson