PH growth seen rebounding in Q4
The head of the Duterte administration’s economic team was optimistic of a rebound in economic growth by the fourth quarter after major infrastructure agencies on Wednesday committed to spend all of their budgets for big-ticket projects.
“Total program disbursements for 2019 is P3.769 trillion. To attain this target, the government needs to disburse P1.14 trillion or 30 percent this fourth quarter. Based on the updates of our main infrastructure agencies, we are confident that we are going to hit our spending target this year,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters after their Economic Development Cluster (EDC) meeting Wednesday night.
“Henceforth, the economy is expected to expand at a higher clip over the remaining months of 2019 as inflation stays within the official target range of 2-4 percent, and the government accelerates implementation of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure and human capital development projects to make up for the underspending earlier this year due to the delay in the enactment of the budget. We will intensify our efforts to restore last year’s upward momentum in our growth rate,” Dominguez said.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed to 5.5 percent in the first half, below the government’s 6-7 percent target, due to delayed budget approval that led to underspending of P1 billion a month from January to April.
As President Duterte signed the P3.7-trillion 2019 national budget only in mid-April following squabbles between the two houses of Congress over alleged “pork” funds, the government used reenacted 2018 appropriations during the first four months.
In particular, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was “confident it could deliver on its P725-billion disbursement target for the whole of 2019,” Dominguez said.
“The DPWH is implementing reforms to effectively address right-of-way issues and accelerate implementation of big-ticket projects. Among the main projects that the DPWH expects to inaugurate this year are the Central Luzon Link Express project phase one, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, Ciudad de Victoria interchange overpass bridge, and the bypass road in Bulacan,” according to Dominguez.
As for the Department of Transportation (DOTr), disbursements as of September already amounted P43.7 billion, hence the agency had to fast-track spending the remaining P51.3 billion out of its P82-billion budget for the year, Dominguez said.
“We had a long discussion and we are confident that both the DPWH and the DOTr can actually cover the gap that was left from the delays in the beginning of the year. So we’re moving ahead and we think that all is in place to achieve those goals. But you know, Mark Villar and [DOTr Secretary] Art Tugade really stick by their projections and they’ll make sure these things happen,” the finance chief said.
However, Dominguez said preliminary data showed that expenditures on infrastructure and other capital outlays during the first nine months declined by 4.2 percent year-on-year to P546.3 billion, although these disbursements already accounted for 92 percent of the P594-billion full-year program.
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