MANILA, Philippines - Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson on Friday justified the delays in several infrastructure projects, the culprit behind low government spending early this year, saying the government had to be prudent to ensure all contracts were aboveboard.
Singson said almost 70% of the projects in their budget have been "realigned" because of inaccurate and incomplete work programs.
"So we asked for detailed programs of work. Sa ngayon naman, umaandar na 'yan. Hindi naman excessive delay, we just wanted accuracy and prudency in what we are doing," he told radio dzMM in a phone interview.
However, Singson said nearly all of projects worth P50 million and below have now been awarded, while the "big-ticket" items were being finalized.
"We ask for detailed program reports before we actually release the funds. Napakadaling gawin yung gumastos, ang tanong kung tama ba ang pinaggagastusan?" he said.
Abad: No to waste of public funds
Budget Secretary Forencio Abad, in a separate interview, cited a Roll-on Roll-off (RORO) port project with the French government as one of the big items they decided to put on hold for further review.
The move earlier drew criticism from foreign business groups, which said "flip-flopping" by the government was turning off investors.
Abad, however, said: "We're just making sure that we will not have a problem. We would be wasting more money if we push through with these contracts without reviewing them."
Abad explained that in the RORO project, for example, they discovered many unnecessary costs.
"Ilan ba talaga ang kailangan na RORO ports, nakalagay dun 70, pero 33 lang naman talaga ang kailangan. Tama ba yung halaga? Lumalabas pwede naman pala one-third lang nung price, and tama ba ang desenyo?"
Abad assured that government spending has started to pick up, giving the economy a boost.
Gross domestic product growth slowed to 4.9% in the first quarter, dragged by reduced public spending. State spending in the first 4 months fell 12%.