Infra spending hits P93.7-B

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 01 2014 10:34 AM | Updated as of Jul 01 2014 06:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Public spending on infrastructure rose by nearly a quarter in April with bulk of the increase going to reconstruction efforts in areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda, the Department of Budget and Management reported yesterday.

Expenditures for infrastructure and other capital outlay climbed to P93.7 billion as of April or a 24.5 percent increase from the P75.2 billion spent in the same month last year.

“Our infrastructure spending is still going at a faster clip year-on-year. Although post-Yolanda reconstruction activities have played a major role in our infrastructure disbursements, the upsurge is also on account of the Aquino administration’s stronger focus on strengthening the economy through infrastructure and capital outlay investments,” Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said.

“Our campaign to ‘build back better’ for Yolanda-hit areas requires the introduction of better standards in the recovery and reconstruction process. We aren’t merely preoccupied with restoring damaged structures. We’re also determined to rebuild public infrastructure-such as schools and hospitals-so they’re more disaster-resistant,” he added.

State spending on infrastructure propelled overall government expenditures to P626.1 billion, up 7.2 percent year on year.

Abad also noted the government’s higher disbursements to support local government units (LGUs), where total capital transfers reached P113.9 billion as of April, 12.3 percent highe than the P101.4 billion registered in the same period a year ago.

Meanwhile, interest payments from January to April, which amounted to P116.5 billion, slowed down by P5.5 billion or 4.5 percent compared to the previous year’s figure.

“We’re directing more funds to our local governments to help them with their capacity-building initiatives. As our LGUs become more and efficient, their constituents can likewise look forward to the improved delivery of public services. This is one of the many ways through which better government spending can create a direct and substantial impact on the lives of citizens,” Abad said.

“It’s also worth mentioning that our disbursements for interest payments have gone down for the first four months of the year. This essentially means that debt payments are taking up less space in government spending, so that we can devote more funds towards the administration’s priority programs and projects,” he further said.

Abad said the administration would maintain its spending momentum for infrastructure projects as well as for other socio-economic projects to further boost the economy and achieve its goal of sustained inclusive growth.

“While there is a cumulative increase in total government spending, we expect disbursements on other major expenditure items to pick up in the coming months. With the help of the agencies’ respective account management teams (AMTs), we’ve been able to identify bottlenecks that hold back spending. We have already spotted issues on planning and procurement, and we’re addressing these as quickly as possible,” Abad said.

Personnel services, meanwhile, went up five percent to P186.5 billion as of April this year. The increase was due to the payment of salaries for new teaching positions in the Department of Education (DepEd), new police recruits in the Department of Interior and Local Government-Philippine National Police (DILG-PNP), and the grant of incentives to the beneficiaries of the rationalization program.