MANILA — Government spending for infrastructure and capital outlay rose to P93.7 billion as of April — a 24.5-percent growth from last year’s P75.2-billion level — as the Aquino administration extends its cumulative double-digit expansion for infrastructure disbursements year-on-year.
Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad on Monday said that notable infrastructure disbursements in April were channeled mostly to ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in communities devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda.”
“Our infrastructure spending is still going at a faster clip year-on-year. Although post-‘Yolanda’ reconstruction activities have played a major role in our infrastructure disbursements. The upsurge is also on account of the Aquino administration’s stronger focus on strengthening the economy through infrastructure and capital outlay investments,” said Abad in a statement.
“Our campaign to ‘build back better’ for ‘Yolanda’-hit areas requires the introduction of better standards in the recovery and reconstruction process. We aren’t merely preoccupied with restoring damaged structures. We’re also determined to rebuild public infrastructure — such as schools and hospitals — so they’re more disaster-resistant,” he added.
The reported infrastructure spending performance propelled overall government disbursements to P626.1 billion — an increase of P42.1 billion or 7.2 percent from 2013’s P584 billion — as of end-April this year.
Abad also noted the government’s higher disbursements to support local government units (LGUs), where total capital transfers topped at P113.9 billion as of April, up by 12.3 percent from the P101.4 billion recorded in the same period last year.
Meanwhile, interest payments from January to April — which amounted to P116.5 billion — have slowed down by P5.5 billion or 4.5 percent compared to figures posted as of end-April in 2013.
“We’re directing more funds to our local governments to help them with their capacity-building initiatives. As our LGUs become more and efficient, their constituents can likewise look forward to the improved delivery of public services. This is one of the many ways through which better government spending can create a direct and substantial impact on the lives of citizens,” said Abad.
“It’s also worth mentioning that our disbursements for interest payments have gone down for the first four months of the year. This essentially means that debt payments are taking up less space in government spending, so that we can devote more funds towards the administration’s priority programs and projects,” he added.
Abad also expressed optimism on the government’s disbursement performance over the coming months, as the administration continues to pursue budget reforms that will help speed up expenditures and boost the economy.
While there is a cumulative increase in total government spending, the DBM chief said, “we expect disbursements on other major expenditure items to pick up in the coming months. With the help of the agencies’ respective account management teams (AMTs), we’ve been able to identify bottlenecks that hold back spending. We have already spotted issues on planning and procurement, and we’re addressing these as quickly as possible.”
“We will of course maintain our spending momentum for infrastructure projects, as well as for other socio-economic programs at the heart of our bid for inclusive growth,” he emphasized.