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Gov’t H1 spending falls P81.5B below program

Disbursements for infra projects seen peaking in next 2 quarters
By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:30 AM August 02, 2019

The delayed approval of the P3.7-trillion 2019 national budget took its toll on infrastructure development as the government underspent P81.5 billion in projects during the first half.

The government spent only P311.4 billion on infrastructure and other capital outlays between January and June, below the P392.9-billion programmed for the six-month period, the latest Department of Budget and Management (DBM) data released on Thursday showed.

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The end-June disbursements on infrastructure also fell 11.7 percent from P352.7 billion in the same period last year.

In June alone, the government rolled out just P43.5 billion in infrastructure projects, down from P71.9 billion a year ago and P61.5 billion a month ago.

In a statement, the DBM blamed for the underspending “the delayed implementation of various infrastructure projects following the late approval of the fiscal year 2019 general appropriations act and the election ban.”

“It is expected that the bulk of disbursements, especially on infrastructure and other capital outlays, will be heavily concentrated in the second semester of the year. For instance, the Department of Public Works and Highways  (DPWH) anticipates that its spending will pick up in the third quarter and peak in the fourth, barring any other significant delays, such as weather disturbances and other implementation bottlenecks,” the DBM said.

“The DBM is keen on monitoring the implementing agencies who committed to (accelerate) spending for the latter half of the year in order to achieve the government’s economic growth target of 6-7 percent for 2019,” it added.

Under the economic team’s bold spending catch-up plan, major infrastructure agencies such as the DPWH and the Department of Transportation would speed up implementation of P803 billion worth of projects for the rest of the year.

First-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell to a four-year low of 5.6 percent mainly due to government underspending.

To recall, President Duterte signed the 2019 national budget only in mid-April 15 as the two houses of Congress had squabbled over “pork” funds, such that the government underspent about P1 billion a day from January to April.

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TAGS: 2019 national budget, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), infrastructure development, infrastructure projects
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