Pernia: 24/7 work on new infra projects to offset 2019 budget delay
MANILA, Philippines–Economic managers want work on new infrastructure projects done 24 hours a day, seven days a week to play catch up due to the delay in implementation of the 2019 national budget.
While Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer Tuesday that continuing and previously ongoing projects had “no disruptions,” the country’s chief economist said “new projects certainly need to get going fast on a 24/7 work regimen.”
“Luckily, the weather is likely to cooperate given weak El Niño forecast,” added Pernia, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte finally signed the P3.8-trillion appropriations for this year even as he vetoed P95.3 billion in projects that were not included in his administration’s priorities.
For his part, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told beat reporters in a Viber message Monday night that “we fully support the President in his desire to focus national expenditure on projects and activities that redound to the benefit of all Filipinos.”
These priority programs and projects to be funded by the 2019 budget will “stimulate the growth of the economy, providing job and income opportunity for the least advantaged,” said Dominguez, who heads the Duterte administration’s economic team.
Neda earlier projected economic growth at about 6.1-6.3 percent, within the downgraded 6-7 percent full-year target and around the same level as last year’s 6.2-percent expansion, if the government operated under a reenacted budget until April.
The Cabinet-level interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) had cut its 2019 growth goal from 7-8 percent partly due to the budget delay.
The Department of Finance (DOF), meanwhile, had said the government was unable to spend P43.7 billion on public goods and services from January to February due to the budget impasse in Congress amid allegations of unauthorized insertions by the Lower House. /jpv
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