THE country’s economic managers are confident that the government will hit its goal of disbursing the P3.76 trillion it had programmed for this year, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd.
In an interview after the Economic Development Cluster meeting on Wednesday night, Dominguez said actual government disbursements of P2.62 trillion from January to September represented 98 percent of the P2.685 trillion programmed for the nine-month period.
It was also 5.5 percent higher than the actual disbursements for the same period in 2018, he added.
“However, this was weighed down by the contraction recorded by the disbursements of infrastructure and other capital delays, which were mainly [caused by] the delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget and the election ban,” the Finance chief said.
He also said state spending for infrastructure and other capital outlay in the first nine months of 2019 amounted to P546.3 billion, which is about 92 percent of the programmed P594 billion, but 4.2 percent lower than the actual disbursements for the same period last year.
The government still needs to disburse P1.14 trillion in the fourth quarter to finish its total programmed disbursements of P3.76 trillion this year, Dominguez added.
But “based on the updates of our main infrastructure agencies, we are confident that we are going to hit our spending target this year,” the official said.
According to him, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is confident it can meet its P725-billion disbursement target for this year.
“For the first nine months of 2019, [it has, so far,] disbursed a total of P424.7 billion. [Public Works] Secretary (Mark) Villar assured [us] that the P300.3-billion target for the last quarter is attainable,” said Dominguez, who highlighted the reforms implemented by the Public Works department to address right-of-way issues and accelerate implementation of big ticket projects.
Projects the DPWH expects to inaugurate this year include the first phase of the Central Luzon Link Express project, the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, the Ciudad de Victoria interchange overpass bridge and the bypass road in Bulacan.
Meanwhile, the DoF head said, the Department of Transportation’s (DoTr) actual disbursements as of September 3 reached P43.7 billion. It expected to disburse P51.37 billion in the fourth quarter to fulfill 99 percent of its commitment to spend P82 billion this year.
“We had a long discussion and we have decided we are confident that both the DPWH and the DoTr can actually cover the gap that was left from the delays in the beginning of the year,” Dominguez added.
With this, he noted that “the economy is expected to expand at a higher clip over the remaining months of 2019 as inflation stays within the official target range of 2 to 4 percent.”
Philippine economic growth in the first half of 2019 stands at 5.5 percent, well below the government’s downwardly revised target range of 6 to 7 percent.