Govt to spend P171.6B on infra next year

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The Duterte administration is allocating P171.6 billion to infrastructure building next year. It represents 5.2 percent of a much-reduced P3.3 trillion national budget.

In comparison, the latest data from the Department of Budget and Management showed that the Aquino administration had spent P243 billion on infrastructure and other capital outlays by the end of the third quarter of 2015. For that year the Aquino administration had allocated 24.5 percent of the P2.61 trillion budget for infrastructure and related expenditure. However, actual spending in the first three-quarters of the year (P243 billion) amounted to only 9.32 percent of the 2015 budget.

The economic planners of the Duterte administration had earlier said they wanted to lessen the tax burden on the common man. Therefore, a smaller national budget is inevitable; however a fair share of it is being allocated to infrastructure building.

“The infrastructure program will include subsidies and equity to government-owned and -controlled corporations, and transfers to local government units (LGUs) for the development projects to LGUs,” Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno said during a press conference following the DBCC meeting held at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Tuesday.


Round-the-clock work
Diokno also said that the government is considering pursuing round-the-clock construction for all major Metro Manila infrastructure projects as well as projects in Cebu and Davao.

“This is a recognition of the economic cost of project delays. The estimate is something like P2.3 billion everyday. So to get things done much faster, we will work 24/7 and that will also have an impact on employment,” he said.

“We have brought it to the President’s attention and he’s okay with it,” he added.

Describing the plan as doable, the Department of Public Works and Highways vowed its cooperation, but noted that coordination is needed.

“It is possible. Of course, you have to coordinate with the contractors and see how they can implement it, but it is doable,” said Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.

Asked if the plan will cover Metro Manila only, Villar said the agency would try to fast track as many projects as it could.

The Duterte administration also said that it would continue the current line up of projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) program.

“There are several that about to be bid, also a number that needs the last step which is the NEDA [National Economic and Development Authority] Board approval. I think these projects can be bid or completed for bidding within the year,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

As of the second quarter of 2016, 14 PPP projects costing P303 billion have already been awarded, while 17 projects worth nearly P580 billion are in various stages.

Pernia said priority PPP projects include link roads, railways and airports.

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