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Monday, February 19, 2018

DBM vows timely fund releases for infra projects

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By Chino S. Leyco

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) assured timely implementation and disbursement of funds to support the Duterte administration’s ambitious infrastructure projects.

In a statement, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said that final public spending figure on last year’s infrastructure expenditures is expected to register “a sharp rise,” and is projected to sustain its strong growth pace this year.

With the expected increase, Diokno said this will fulfill the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

From January to November last year, Diokno cited that infrastructure and other capital disbursements amounted to R486.5 billion, a 14.2 percent year-on-year increase.

“We are optimistic that the full-year data will validate our projections of a sharp rise in infrastructure spending for 2017, as well as minimizing government underspending,” Diokno said.

The improved performance of government disbursements can be attributed to the reforms implemented by the Duterte administration, Diokno said.

For one, the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Government Procurement Reform Act had been revised to streamline public procurement without sacrificing the integrity of the process.

The Budget and Treasury Management System (BTMS), a financial management information system, is also being rolled out and will continue to enhance budget preparation, execution, oversight, and reporting.

Policy wise, the DBM has continued the early release of allotments and the conduct of early procurement activities, enabling agencies to immediately implement projects at the start of the fiscal year.

Moving forward, Diokno said the shift to a one-year cash-based Budget starting in 2019 will further quicken government spending.

The DBM has also hiked the budget for Right-of-Way (ROW) payments for big-ticket items. This is intended to reduce bottlenecks in the implementation of infrastructure projects.

The combined ROW allocation for the Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Transportation surged from P4.2 billion in the 2015 to P32.6 billion last year.

In the 2018 GAA, ROW budget increased to P34.9 billion with the DPWH and DOTr receiving P20.5 billion and 14.4 billion, respectively.

“These indicators, combined with improved capacity to implement by line departments, will ensure that the loans extended by the Japanese government will be utilized to the fullest extent,” he said.

The Duterte administration vowed to spend P8 to P9 trillion on public infrastructure, ushering in the Golden Age of Infrastructure in the Philippines.

The investments in infrastructure will put the infrastructure budget from 5.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year to 7.3 percent by 2022.

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