MANILA, Philippines - Government expenditures for infrastructure and other capital outlay surged 45% to P23.8 billion in January, as reconstruction projects in areas affected by super typhoon "Yolanda" got underway.
Total national government expenditures jumped 16% to P183 billion this year, from P157.9 billion a year ago.
In a statement, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the increase in expenditures were due to disbursements related to rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in areas badly hit by "Yolanda" and the earthquake last year.
"With new budget reforms in place, expenditures hit the ground running to post a strong start for government spending in 2014. These reforms—including the GAA-as-Release Document policy—helped spur faster disbursements for key programs, including those for post-calamity reconstruction and rehabilitation projects. What's particularly notable is that we were able to ramp up expenditures to levels that would have been expected of election season, and we're definitely a good way off from that," Abad said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said over 3.4 million or over 16 million individuals from 44 provinces, 592 towns and 57 cities in Southern Tagalog, the Bicol Region and central and eastern Visayas were affected by "Yolanda". The estimated damage to infrastructure and agriculture has reached P36.6 billion.
Abad said front-loading expenditures in the first half of 2014 fits with the government's goal of sustaining economic growth this year.
He noted that 86% of the allotments for national government agencies and departments under the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA) have already been released through the GAA-as-Release Document policy.
"The impact of budget reform on our spending performance cannot be emphasized enough. By aiming for swifter and more efficient fund releases, agencies can move quickly in obligating their allocations. What's so important about this is that fast disbursements will naturally give way to the prompt delivery of public goods and services. Our aim is to meet the public's expectations of our governance agenda, where transformative and efficient leadership can directly benefit the people," he added.
The major allotment releases for January included funds for the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Program of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Development of Crop Sector Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), provision for the creation of new teaching positions and GASTPE scholarship program of the Department of Education (DepEd), and the network development and asset preservation of national roads, flood control projects and other various infrastructure projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), among others.