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Gov’t spending P910B on infrastructure this year

/ 05:09 AM February 25, 2019

The government has programmed to spend P910 billion in infrastructure this year and double this amount by 2022 to pave the way for a “golden age of infrastructure.”

Based on Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno’s presentation at the Philippine Economic Briefing in Osaka, Japan, last Friday, the infrastructure program for 2019 would be equivalent to 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

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Appropriations for infrastructure will breach the P1-trillion mark in 2020 with P1.22 trillion or 5.7 percent of GDP to be spent on roads, bridges, airports and railways next year.

Infrastructure expenditures will further increase to P1.54 trillion or 6.6 percent of GDP in 2021 and peak to P1.81 trillion, equivalent to 7 percent of GDP, by 2022.

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Last year, the latest Department of Budget and Management data showed that government spending on infrastructure and other capital outlays jumped 49.7 percent year-on-year to P728.1 billion as of November.

Diokno attributed last year’s climb in infrastructure spending to front-loading of projects in the first six months as the weather was “perfect for construction.”

Infrastructure outlays as a percentage of GDP rose from 4.5 percent in 2016 to 6.3 percent in 2017 and to the programmed 6.2 percent in 2018.

Last Friday, Diokno said “higher government spending and upgrading of infrastructure will enhance the Philippine economy’s competitiveness,” in line with the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

Under “Build, Build, Build,” the government will roll out 75 flagship projects, with about half expected to be completed during President Duterte’s term.

At the Osaka briefing, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez said the 75 flagship projects included 31 roads and bridges, 12 railway and urban transport projects, 11 water supply and irrigation projects, six air transport projects, four water transport projects, four flood management projects, four power projects as well as three other public infrastructure projects.

In a separate presentation before the US-Philippines Society board of directors last week, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said 44 “Build, Build, Build” projects worth P1.54 trillion were already in various stages of implementation as of November last year, while 24 and seven projects were under pre-investment study and for review, respectively.

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Pernia, who also heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority, said the updated Public Investment Program (PIP) 2017-2022 aimed to implement a bigger 9,581 programs and projects worth a total of P9.26 trillion.

Infrastructure accounted for the bulk or 68.9 percent of the total investment requirement, with P6.38 trillion worth of projects under the PIP. —BEN O. DE VERA

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