PH reforms to boost infra, social services spending

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The government aims to implement more effectively the reforms and strategies that will fast-track procurement of infrastructure and social services to promote efficient spending which is crucial in achieving sustained economic growth.

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The Socioeconomic Report 2014 attributed the government underspending particularly in infrastructure to various institutional bottlenecks, including procurement issues, right-of-way issues and limited capacities of implementing agencies, among others.

“If these obstacles are not immediately and significantly addressed, there is a risk of not fully meeting all infrastructure development targets by 2016,” said the report, published by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

It said fully addressing these institutional obstacles is imperative in order to maximize the potential contribution of public-private partnerships (PPP) projects to overall infrastructure development.

The NEDA report also underscored the need for the country to pursue improvements in planning and programming process, due diligence in project preparation and innovations in financing and investments.

”To improve the financing, timing and sequence of project preparation, it is recommended that project proponents prepare and acquire rights of way ahead of time. To ensure that agreements are implemented, there is a need to ensure continuous compliance on laws, rules and regulation in procurement and bidding procedures,” it said.

Under the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, the country aims to increase public infrastructure spending to at least five percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2016 from around 3.5 percent of GDP in 2014.

Further, the report said the government can pursue strategies for programs and projects in the 2015 National Expenditure Program (NEP) which aims to promote faster program implementation through early procurement, checkless payments and General Appropriations Act (GAA)-as-a-release document.

“The spending performance of the national government on vital economic and social services weighed significantly on the growth of the economy,” it added.

As procurement delays are noted as bottlenecks to efficient spending, the report said the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members and Technical Working Groups should give utmost priority to procurement assignments over all other duties and responsibilities.

The number of BACs may also be increased in big departments such as Transportation and Communications, Public Works and Highways, Education, Health, and Social Welfare and Development, which procure numerous and complex items.

The report said the budget resources and reforms in social protection, social services, jobs and economic expansion in priority sectors in focus geographical areas will be expanded through the Budget Priorities Framework. This will guide the preparation of the fiscal year 2016 budget.

The framework is essentially a blueprint of the Aquino administration’s broader strategy to eradicate poverty and further stimulate the economy, while establishing lasting peace, sound climate change programs and policies and governance reforms.

PNA

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