Only small fraction of 2018 budget remains

BUDGET Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

The bulk or 96.3 percent equal to P3.629 trillion of the P3.767 trillion national budget this year has been released as of 22 November, according to data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Only P137.9 billion of the full 2018 national budget is yet to be released.

Among the major items released to various agencies for the period of 16 to 22 November were for the construction of major projects under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

Releases to the Department of Public Works and Highways include a P5.24 billion projects for the construction of basic education facilities for the Department of Education and a P2.55 billion payment for right-of-way claims for properties affected by the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project.

A P730 million payment is also allotted for right-of-way claims for the properties affected by the construction of the C-5 Northern Link Road Project, Phase 2, Segment 10 from MacArthur Highway, Valenzuela City to Malabon and C-3 Road Caloocan City.

The DPWH was also given a budget of P990 million to support the rehabilitation of Marawi and its surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, a national government subsidy worth P590 million was released to the Philippine Postal Corporation for the delivery of mails for offices with franking privileges.

A P560 million budget was also released to the Department of Transportation to account for the loan proceeds requirement for the implementation of the Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1 loan-assisted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

In another development, DBM stated that quicker government spending under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte enabled the government to debunk claims of underspending.

This is amid talks of a reenacted budget for the first quarter of 2019 due primarily to the delay in the transmittal of the General Appropriations Bill by the House of Representatives to the Senate, said DBM.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that there is no underspending to speak of.
“The government is ahead in its disbursements. In fact, we are slightly overspending.”

Still, government spending is expected to normalize in the fourth quarter of the year so as not to exceed the deficit target of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product, the budget chief said.

Annual underspending rate in 2014 and 2015 were recorded at 13.3 and 12.8 percent, respectively. In 2016, or during the current president’s assumption, underspending was cut to 3.6 percent, further lowering down to 2.9 percent in 2017.