‘Govt spending may beat 2016 target’

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The government may hit its goal of infrastructure spending equivalent to 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) earlier than the 2016 target under its revised five-year plan, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Monday.

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Explaining the updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, NEDA Deputy Director General Emmanuel Esguerra said the plan involves stepping up infrastructure spending to sustain the country’s economic growth.

“In 2013, infrastructure spending was lower than 3 percent [of GDP]but as we go along, and as the various infrastructure projects come on stream, we expect that that should increase the spending,” Esguerra told reporters.

“It is possible to reach that figure [5 percent of GDP] probably earlier than 2016 given the pace of construction that needs to be accelerated in light of the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda,” he added.

According to the updated Plan, infrastructure development will be accelerated to support rapid and sustained growth and promote inclusivity.

Private sector investment is expected to contribute to the 5 percent target on public infrastructure spending through public-private partnerships.

The Plan stated that infrastructure spending is necessary to catalyze development in key sectors such as agriculture, industry and services, information technology and business process management, as well as energy.

The provision of adequate infrastructure also addresses inequalities in opportunities, as the government will massively construct, rehabilitate and upgrade basic health care hospitals and facilities, close the student-classroom gap, provide water supply and sanitation facilities in rural and hard-to-reach areas, and provide housing units to over 500,000 households, it said.

To date, the government’s infrastructure spending has reached P23.8 billion, reflecting an increase of P7.4 billion or 45.1-percent from the P16.4 billion recorded in the same month last year.

The Department of Budget and Management attributed the surge primarily to disbursements related to reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts on areas affected by calamities last year, most notably Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Meanwhile, the NEDA said the purpose of the updated Plan is to make the necessary adjustments in policy, strategies, measures and programs based on updated information, and lessons learned during the first half of the Plan’s implementation since its launch in 2011.

“I wish to emphasize that the Updated Plan, as the country’s roadmap to inclusive growth and poverty reduction, is clearly linked with, and serves as guide for programming, budgeting, program implementation, monitoring, and even performance management,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan in a statement.

The salient updates to the Plan include the identification of poor and vulnerable provinces, as well as the refocusing of strategic interventions according to their needs and development potentials.

“The contents of the Plan are clearly reflected in various documents and initiatives of the government,” Balisacan added.

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