Govt cuts 2021 infra budget to P1.107 trillion to fund recovery programs amid pandemic
THE Executive Branch slashed its proposed public infrastructure budget under the 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP) to P1.107 trillion—an amount lower than it was eyeing in June—to fund the country’s recovery programs from the pandemic.
On Tuesday, the Department of Budget and Management finally submitted for Congress’ approval the P4.506-trillion national budget for next year.
While this budget ceiling was nearly 4 percent higher than the P4.335 trillion approved by the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee in June, the country’s economic managers back then were proposing a slightly higher public infrastructure budget of P1.131 trillion. Compared to this amount, the proposed P1.107 trillion public infrastructure budget is 2.12 percent lower.
Budget Assistant Secretary and Spokesman Rolando Toledo said the adjustment was made in consideration of the other expense items amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The public infrastructure budget under the 2021 NEP is smaller than what was being eyed in June because of the higher requirements of other expense items, particularly for PS [Personnel Services] and MOOE [Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses] owing mainly to Covid-19 recovery Programs/activities/projects [PAPS],”
Toledo said in a message to Businessmirror.
Despite the reduction in proposed public infrastructure budget, this is still significantly higher by 13.4 percent than the P976 billion programmed for this year. It is also equivalent to 5.4 percent of GDP. For this year, the public infrastructure budget was equivalent to 4.6 percent of GDP.
In his budget message, President Duterte said the proposed infrastructure budget for 2021 consists of shovel-ready projects focused on enhancing the delivery of health and essential services and improving the transportation and mobility of people and goods amid the pandemic.
Because of its high multiplier effect on economic growth, infrastructure development is “indispensable” in reviving the Philippine economy during and after Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
Duterte said some 140,000 to 220,000 additional jobs next year are expected to be created under the government’s “Build, Build, Build”program. This would be on top of private sector investments in manufacturing and construction activities that would be generated to fuel the country’s economic recovery.
“The intensified infrastructure spending for 2021 will fortify our fight against Covid-19. It signifies that, in spite of the bleak economic perceptions and uncertainties brought by the pandemic, we are still confidently on track in marshalling the Philippines’s Golden Age of Infrastructure, which will build a solid foundation to our promise of providing a comfortable life and a bright future for all Filipinos by 2040,” he said.
The bulk or 71 percent of the total P1.107 trillion proposed infrastructure program would be allotted to government’s main infrastructure agencies.
Of this, the government is seeking to allot P667.3 billion for the Department of Publicworks and Highways (DPWH) and P122.9 billion for the Department of Transportation (DOTR) to be used to implement major projects under government’s massive infrastructure program that seek to establish better connectivity for Filipinos.
Under the proposed DPWH budget, 57.9 percent or P386.7 billion will be for the implementation of its core programs, particularly the Asset Preservation Program, Network Development Program, Bridge Program and Flood Management Program; while P176.2 billion is intended for the Local Program to support various local infrastructure programs and projects, such as the construction of local roads and bridges, multipurpose buildings, school buildings, water supply, septage and sewerage, among others.
Bernadette D. Nicolas