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Government infrastructure spending soars to P107 billion

MANILA, Philippines — The Marcos administration ramped up its infrastructure spending in October last year by 75 percent to P107 billion, largely to fund road projects, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.

Based on the latest national government disbursement performance report of the DBM, state infrastructure expenditure and other capital outlays jumped by 75.2 percent to P107.3 billion in October 2023 from P61.2 billion in the same period in 2022.

The DBM attributed the sharp increase mainly to the disbursements of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for right-of-way claims and expedited processing and payment of accounts payables, as well as mobilization fees and advances to contractors.

The higher releases from the DPWH were also due to constant monitoring of project accomplishments through the assigned project engineers and continuous reminder to all implementing offices to meet their physical and financial targets for the year.

Similarly, the releases for the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program of the Department of National Defense contributed to the higher infrastructure spending for the period.

For the 10-month period of 2023, infrastructure spending picked up by 23.5 percent to P964.9 billion from P781.5 billion a year earlier.

The DBM said this was due to the robust spending performance of the DPWH for its road infrastructure program.

The disbursements made for the modernization projects of the DND and foreign-assisted railway projects of the Department of Transportation also contributed to the higher disbursement as of end-October 2023.

Meanwhile, overall government spending for October 2023 increased by nearly 10 percent to P420.2 billion from P387.9 billion a year ago.

Apart from infrastructure, personnel services expenditures increased by 8.6 percent to P94.3 billion due to the implementation of the fourth tranche of salary standardization as well as the payment to healthcare workers and filling up of positions in the Department of Education.

Interest payments also surged by 77.7 percent to P59 billion due to coupon payments for global bonds and fixed rate Treasury bonds, as well as the impact of higher interest rates here and abroad.

On the other hand, combined allotment and capital transfers to local government units fell by 13 percent to P75.4 billion on lower national tax allotment.

The government also recorded lower maintenance and other operating expenses at P70.7 billion due to the timing of release for free college tuition and social assistance programs.

This was slightly offset by the expenses of the Commission on Elections for the conduct of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October 2023.

A decrease in government spending was similarly noted in subsidy support to government corporations, which went down to P9.2 billion mainly because of the timing of releases for the health sector and pending requests for other infrastructure and housing projects.

Net lending also slid to P2 billion due to the lower government advances to the National Food Authority.

As of end-October 2023, the remaining program balance amounted to P234.9 billion or 4.2 percent of the adjusted P5.294 trillion budget.

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The article was originally published in PhilStar Global and written by Louise Maureen Simeon.

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