MANILA, Philippines – In an effort to address underspending in 2014, the government will increase infrastructure investments by 4% of projected gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.
The early enactment of the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) is eyed to fuel this year’s public spending through infrastructure programs.
DBM said it already released P2.037 trillion ($461.95 billion) or 78% of the P2.606 trillion ($591.53 billion) budget for 2015 at the start of the year to address procurement and implementation delays and fast track the release of funds for public goods and services.
In the 2015 national budget, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) received the second largest allocation at P303.2 billion ($6.88 billion), an increase of 37.9% from P219.9 billion ($4.99 billion) in 2014.
DPWH is allotting P185.8 billion ($4.21 billion) for the completion of all national roads by 2016 and all bridges along national roads by 2015.
The DPWH initiatives also involve public-private partnership projects, like the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union expressway, the Muntinlupa-Cavite expressway project (formerly Daang Hari-South Luzon expressway project), the NLEX-SLEX connector, the Cavite-Laguna expressway project, the Laguna lakeshore expressway dike project, and the NAIA expressway.
The Department of Agriculture has a budget of P89.1 billion ($2.02 billion) for 2015, higher by 11.5% compared to its 2014 budget of P80 billion ($1.81 billion). The DA is set to construct a number of irrigation projects, farm-to-market roads, and fishery infrastructure projects like fish landings and fish ports.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is getting P59.5 billion ($1.35 billion), up by 21.9% versus last year’s budget of P48.8 billion ($1.11 billion).
DOTC is allotting P10.6 billion ($240.29 billion) for the improvement of the country’s railway systems, including the rehabilitation and extension of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines 1 and 2, the subsidy for Metro Railway Transit (MRT) line 3, and P15.4 billion ($240.29 million) for the various airport and seaport projects.
Of the amount released so far this year, DBM said P1.22 trillion ($27.64 billion) will be for agency-specific budgets, P793.3 billion ($17.98 billion) for other automatic appropriations, and P23.55 billion ($533.79 million) for special purpose funds.
The remaining 22% or P568.7 billion ($12.89 billion) will be considered for later release via Special Allotment Release Orders.
DBM now targets to increase infrastructure spending further to 2016, the last year of the Aquino administration.
“Ultimately, we’re targeting an infrastructure spending level of 5% by 2016,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.
If government continues to tighten its belt over much-needed infrastructure, this might become a trend and would be detrimental for the country’s long-term growth, the World Bank said. – Rappler.com
US$1 = P44.12