Good for PH growth: Gov’t to spend P1T in last 3 months of 2019 | Inquirer Business

Good for PH growth: Gov’t to spend P1T in last 3 months of 2019

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:01 PM October 24, 2019

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said more than P1 trillion would be spent by infrastructure agencies in the remaining three months of 2019, a commitment to splurge that he said made him optimistic about a rebound of the Philippine economy.

The commitment was made by the agencies last Wednesday, Oct. 23, according to Dominguez, head of the Duterte administration’s economic team.

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He said the total programmed disbursement for 2019 was P3.769 trillion and to attain spending targets, the government must spend P1.14 trillion, or 30 percent of the total, in the last quarter of 2019.

“We are confident that we are going to hit our spending target this year,” Dominguez said after the Cabinet’s Economic Development Cluster (EDC) last Wednesday.

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Combined with inflation rate that had been tamed to 2 to 4 percent, the spending binge was expected to “make up for the underspending earlier this year due to the delay in the enactment of the budget,” said Dominguez.

Add to those an accelerated implementation of “Build, Build, Build” and “human capital development projects” and the economy would be well on its way to growth levels that could exceed projections, according to Dominguez.

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed to 5.5 percent in the first half, below the government’s 6-7 percent target, after Congress took the 2019 national budget hostage until it had its share of kickbacks from pork barrel funds.

This led to underspending of at least P1 billion a month from January to April, which was anathema to President Rodrigo Duterte’s belief that failure to spend what had been allocated was corruption in itself.

Duterte signed the more than P3-trillion 2019 budget only in mid-April with the government being forced to rely on a reenacted budget in the first four months of 2019.

According to Dominguez, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was confident it could disburse P725 billion, its target, for 2019. In the first nine months of 2019, the DPWH had already spent P424.7 billion. Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, according to Dominguez, “assured” that spending P300.3 billion in the last three months of 2019 “is attainable.”

One of the obstacles to disbursement in the DPWH was right-of-way cases and the department is already “implementing reforms” to flatten the creases and “accelerate implementation of big ticket projects,” Dominguez said.

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DPWH projects that are for inauguration this year included the Central Luzon Link Expressway Phase One, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, Ciudad Victoria Interchange Overpass Bridge and the Bypass Road in Bulacan, according to the finance chief.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) had already spent P43.7 billion as of September and was on track to spend the remaining P51.3 billion of its P82-billion budget for 2019, Dominguez said.

He said after a “long discussion, we are confident that both the DPWH and DOTr can actually cover the gap.”

“So we’re moving ahead and we think that all is in place to achieve those goals,” Dominguez said.

He said Villar and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade “really stick by their projections and they’ll make sure these things happen.”

Dominguez expressed a little frustration at a decline of 4.2 percent in infrastructure spending during the first nine months of 2019 though this had already eaten up P546.3 billion, or 92 percent, of a total P594-billion full year projection./TSB

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TAGS: Budget, cabinet, disbursement, Dominguez, economy, EDC, Finance, Infrastructure, rebound
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