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Gov’t 2019 infra spending exceeds target

/ 04:09 AM March 16, 2020

The amount spent by the national government on infrastructure projects last year reached P881.7 billion, exceeding the programmed amount for 2019 as agencies moved to reverse previous underspending caused by the delayed budget approval.

The latest Department of Budget and Management (DBM) data showed that disbursements for infrastructure and other capital outlays in 2019 not only rose by almost a tenth from P803.6 billion in 2018 but also surpassed by 2.6 percent the P859.4-billion program for the year.

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During the fourth quarter, the government’s catch-up spending program went full swing as actual infrastructure and other capital outlay expenditures jumped 46.4 percent year-on-year to P341 billion, likewise 28.7-percent higher than the P264.9 billion that was intended for spending during that quarter. In December alone, spending on infrastructure and other capital outlays more than doubled both year-on-year and month-on-month to P177.9 billion.

In a report, the DBM attributed the climb in infrastructure spending last December mainly to the “strong disbursement performance of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).”

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“In December, the DPWH’s notice of cash allocation disbursements grew by nearly P80 billion, or 86.4 percent, year-on year resulting from the completion and partial completion of a number of national infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges (such as Bayombong-Solano bypass road and Tagum City flyover), including right of way acquisitions, bridges and flood mitigation structures and drainage (such as the Agno River Basin flood control project and flood risk management project for Cagayan River). The outlay also includes the P9.9-billion constructive receipts of cash for works undertaken for the following foreign-assisted projects: road improvement and institutional development project of the DPWH; the North-South Commuter Railway project of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), along with the Metro Manila Subway project, and the Light Rail Transit extension/rehabilitation and restoration project, and the Jalaur River multipurpose project stage 2 of the National Irrigation Administration,” the DBM said.

For the entire year, higher infrastructure spending was due to “the completed or partially completed segments of the big-ticket projects of the DPWH (such as Central Luzon Link Expressway phase 1, Cavite-Laguna Expressway, Tarlac-Panga­sinan-La Union Expressway, and flood risk management project for the Cagayan River), the DOTr (Metro Manila Subway project, North-South Commuter Railway project, and rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit-3), the Department of National Defense’s Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program, and other agencies,” the DBM added.

According to the DBM, “notwithstanding the contraction recorded in the first two quarters due to the delayed budget approval and the election ban, infrastructure spending ended with a positive growth rate as a result of the implementation of catch-up measures such as the 24/7 work schedule for construction of major infrastructure projects, and streamlining of process to expedite right of way acquisitions and facilitate payments.” ­—BEN O. DE VERA INQ

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