Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said a survey revealing that fewer Filipinos felt their lives had improved in the past year partly validates failure of the government to speed up public spending.
According to Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works, the Aquino Administration itself admitted that there was underspending in the past year, and economists blamed poor public spending for a slowdown in the country’s economic growth.
The senator said the inability of the government to effectively use the budget to fund various government projects to benefit the public is one reason why more people feel that their lives have not improved.
The survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) from June 5 to 8 showed a decline to 28 percent from 32 percent last March in the number of people who said their lives had been better in the past 12 months.
Marcos noted that in the past, the Administration’s economic managers even boasted about the retained earnings of the government, which according to the senator, was an indication of failure on the part of the government to do its job.
He pointed out that the government, having large retained earnings means that it is not doing well in serving the public.
“It is the job of businessmen to create value to make a profit, it is the job of th government not to make a profit, not to have a big bank account but to provide service,” Marcos said.
“How can you possibly have good delivery of services to the people if almost P400 billion of your appropriated funds in your budget remain unspent? It is not a point of pride, it should be a point of failure and be recognized as such,” he added.
To help ensure that public spending will be done properly in 2016, Marcos said he will look closely into the Administration’s spending plans next year particularly for vital infrastructure needed to boost economic growth.
The senator welcomed Malacañang’s plan to increase funding for infrastructure in 2016 to 5 percent of gross domestic product or P766.5 billion, from 4 percent of GDP in 2015 or P 569.9 billion.
“However, in the end, it all boils down to execution. Does the administration have a good plan to address the issues that resulted in underspending? That’s what I want to find out,” he said.
The senator added that he will look into the details on how the administration plans to accomplish its goal of speeding up public spending for the remainder of the term of President Benigno Aquino 3rd when the 2016 national budget is presented for deliberation.
In 2014, government disbursements fell short of the programmed P302.7 billion and Malacañang blamed it on poor planning and program and project design; procurement difficulties, including frequent bid failures and the weak capacity to procure; and other bottlenecks, including right-of-way issues, difficulties in securing permits and coordination problems.