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Infra spending surges anew in November

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By Chino S. Leyco

The government’s infrastructure spending accelerated in November last year amid the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno (KEVIN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno (KEVIN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a statement, the DBM reported yesterday that infrastructure and other capital outlays reached P62.9 billion in November, up by 43.6 percent compared with P43.8 billion in the same month in the previous year.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno noted the “solid numbers” were owing to the completed road infrastructure projects by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

He also cited the completed repair and rehabilitation of school buildings as well as facilities of the Department of Education (DepEd) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) that boosted infrastructure receipts during the month.

The budget chief added that the Department of Health (DOH), likewise, acquired medical equipment in November last year.

The latest monthly infrastructure expenditures brought the government’s 11-month total spending to P728.1 billion, an increase of 50 percent year-on-year from P486.5 billion.

“We have an expansionary fiscal policy so we can upgrade our public infrastructure, as well as provide our people with quality and accessible healthcare, education, and poverty-reduction programs,” Diokno said.

“With the pace of public spending, it is clear that the government is following through with its ambitious plans, especially ‘Build, Build, Build,’” he added.

Last Wednesday, Diokno said that the government’s infrastructure spending may likely hit 6.2 percent of the country’s economy, as measured by its gross domestic product (GDP), in 2018, which also almost triple the average since 1986.

While the emerging infrastructure spending ratio is slightly slower than the previous year’s 6.3 percent, Diokno noted that it is significantly quicker than the average 2.0 percent ratio between 1986 and 2016.

The budget chief said the Duterte administration now aims to further raise the level of infrastructure spending to 7.0 percent by 2022.

Meawnhile, the national government’s total disbursements sustained its upward momentum in November, reaching P298.8 billion.

This puts spending from January to November last year at P3.095 trillion, higher by 24 percent compared to the same period in 2017.

Aside from capital spending, personnel services also jumped by 25 percent in due to the release of year-end bonuses, equivalent to one-month basic salary, for both uniformed and civilian government employees; the creation and filling of positions in several state posts.

In January to November, spending on personnel services totaled P884.7 billion, up by 23 percent year-on-year driven by higher salaries for both civilian government employees and military and uniformed personnel, alongside the faster rate of filling of positions by various line agencies.

“We are optimistic about the full-year 2018 spending outturn,” Diokno said. “Public spending remains robust as we’ve managed to channel more resources to the government’s priorities.”

“The 2018 full-year numbers, including the assessment of national government disbursements, should be out by the first quarter of 2019,” he concluded.

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