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End-April public infra spending up despite election ban

PHOTO: Official Gazette

MANILA, Philippines—Total spending on infrastructure grew 3.3 percent to P331.9 billion as of end-April, despite the election ban on new projects ahead of the May 9 elections.

In a report on Monday (June 20), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said infrastructure disbursements of the national government, local government units (LGUs) and state-run corporations rose from P321.2 billion in the first four months of 2021.

The national government’s expenditures on infrastructure and other capital outlays alone inched up 0.3 percent to P254.1 billion from January to April 2022 from P253.4 billion in 2021.

For April 2022, the national government’s infrastructure spending increased 9.7 percent year-on-year to P63.8 billion, although the amount fell 36.3 percent month-on-month as disbursements last March hit P100.2 billion.

The DBM mainly attributed the year-on-year rise in April’s infrastructure investments to “the settlement of accounts payables of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the procurement of farm equipment and machineries under the rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF) and the Department of Education (DepEd) for its basic education facilities.”

“The implementation of infrastructure programs of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) amid the lower COVID-19 alert level systems also contributed to the higher infrastructure expenditures for the month,” the DBM added, referring to the less stringent pandemic restrictions that reopened more economic activities.

Moving forward, the DBM said overall government spending in May would have likely “exhibited a very minimal increase or a slightly lower year-on-year growth owing mainly to the impact of the election ban and timing of subsidy releases.”

The government plans to spend a bigger P1.19 trillion on infrastructure development this year—equivalent to 5.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—than the P1.12 trillion (5.8 percent of GDP) spent last year.

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The article was originally published in Inquirer.NET and written by Ben O. de Vera.