By Chino S. Leyco
The national government’s infrastructure spending posted a strong double digit growth last year, but still below programmed owing to procurement difficulties, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.
Based on the 2016 DBM Disbursement Performance Report, the government’s total infrastructure and other capital outlays spending reached P493 billion, up 43 percent compared with P345.3 billion in the previous year.
But last year’s actual disbursements figure is lower by 7.5 percent against the P533 billion target for the year.
According to the DBM, the lower than programmed spending was due to procurement difficulties such as failure of bidding and non-compliance of bidders.
Some bidders had difficulties complying with product and service specifications of the government, the DBM said in the report.
Agencies that had difficulties in procurement processes were the Department of Health, Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Finance, Bureau of Internal Revenue and Department of Foreign Affairs.
The DBM also cited that some projects under the Department of National Defense, like the construction of an airbase in Cagayan de Oro, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization program encountered delays last year.
“Underspending in infrastructure outlays also stemmed from the P1.8 billion funds which were not yet requested by the PNR and PPA in connection with the memorandum of agreement with the DOTr for various rail and port projects,” DBM said.
PNR stands for the Philippine National Railways (PNR), while PPA is the Philippine Ports Authority.
For 2016, the government’s total disbursements increased by 14 percent to P2.55 trillion from P2.23 trillion in the previous year.
But against target, the government’s actual disbursements last year is below by 3.6 percent versus the P2.64 trillion goal.
While underspending remained in last year, the DBM noted the figure was “minimal” with 12.8 percent in the previous year and 13.3 percent in 2014.
“Among the expenditure items where sizeable underspending was still recorded are maintenance and other operating expenditures, infrastructure and other capital outlays, and interest payments,” the DBM said.
For this year, the national government targets a disbursement program of P2.909 trillion, equivalent to 18.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 14.1 percent higher than the P2.55 trillion actual disbursements in 2016.