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Gov’t to spend less on infra next year

The government will spend a slightly smaller P1.18 trillion on infrastructure next year due to less financial support for projects to be rolled out by local governments and state-run corporations.

As the Marcos administration wanted to tap tycoons’ deeper pockets in its plan to ramp-up  infrastructure development, its first full-year spending plan identified at least 63 public-private partnership (PPP) projects in the pipeline, documents on the proposed P5.268-trillion 2023 national budget released Monday showed.

The infrastructure program for 2023 was lower than the P1.19 trillion earmarked for this year.   As a share of gross domestic product (GDP), infrastructure spending next year will be equivalent to 5 percent of GDP, down from the estimated 5.5 percent this year.

Next year, the national government’s spending on infrastructure will rise to P954.8 billion from this year’s P922.7 billion. Members of President Marcos’ economic team had said the national government wanted to keep infrastructure development under its watch instead of devolving it to local government units (LGUs).

As such, the amount of infrastructure transfers to LGUs will go down to P182 billion in 2023 from P224.9 billion in 2022. Infrastructure subsidies to government-owned and/or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) will also decline to P42.7 billion next year from this year’s P51.1 billion.

Budget documents showed that total disbursements will rise to P1.29 trillion in 2024 and P1.42 trillion in 2025, both equivalent to 5 percent of GDP.

Earlier,  Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) estimates had shown that in 2028 or the year President Marcos ends his term, infrastructure disbursements would hit P2.38 trillion, or a record-high 6.3 percent of GDP.

Meanwhile, as the Marcos administration welcomed more private-sector participation in its infrastructure program, it identified 25 solicited and 38 unsolicited projects forming part of its PPP pipeline.

Budget documents showed four solicited PPP projects were in the procurement stage; nine projects in the approval stage, and 12 projects in the development stage.

Among the unsolicited projects in the PPP pipeline, two are currently in the competitive challenge stage; one project under negotiations; 31 projects awaiting various approvals, and  four are undergoing initial evaluation by implementing agencies.

Last week, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said “PPPs as an economic partnership will sufficiently balance the interests of the public and private sectors.”

“It is worth emphasizing that we recognize this mode of financing as an efficient way of hitting two objectives: prudently managing our limited resources and addressing the yawning infrastructure gap,” said Balisacan, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

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

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