MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Tuesday, January 15, warned senators that removing the P75-billion “insertion” in the proposed 2019 public works budget would lead to more unemployment.
In an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source, Diokno said that removing the controversial allocation, as agreed upon by senators, is about “half a percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).”
“They (senators) can do whatever they want with the President’s budget because that’s their mandate…. But that has employment impact. Less people will get employed. It will increase poverty. Those who cannot find jobs will get poor,” Diokno said, when asked for comment on the move.
The DPWH’s proposed budget for 2019 is P555.7 billion, 25.76% higher than the P441.83 billion it received last year.
Senators are looking into reallocating a portion of the P75 billion to the Department of Health to restore the P24.4 billion needed for DOH health facilities and human resources programs this year. (READ: Budget deadlock: Who’s to blame?)
Diokno earlier said that the P75-billion adjustment in the Department of Public Works and Highways’ budget was meant to help attain the government’s infrastructure spending target of 5% of the projected GDP for 2019.
In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the government can always seek a supplemental budget for infrastructure if needed.
Economic managers said higher infrastructure spending is meant to boost the “Build, Build, Build” program, and is seen to contribute to the 7% economic growth target.
The National Economic and Development Authority earlier estimated that the government’s infrastructure program would generate more than 100,000 jobs in 2017, over 800,000 jobs in 2018, 1.12 million jobs in 2019, 1.23 million jobs in 2020, 1.39 million jobs in 2021, and 1.7 million jobs million in 2022.
The Philippine government is operating on a reenacted budget, after lawmakers failed to pass it on time. The Senate expects the 2019 budget to be passed and signed into law by February. (READ: What to expect as gov’t operates on a reenacted budget) – Rappler.com
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