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PNoy orders gov’t agencies to speed up implementation of infra projects

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno S. Aquino III has ordered government agencies to accelerate the implementation of vital infrastructure projects to boost economic growth in the remaining quarters of the year.
“The President has directed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Transportation and Communications, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, and all other departments to accelerate the implementation of vital public infrastructure projects. Among these agencies, it is noteworthy that the DPWH has posted the highest utilization rate of obligated appropriations,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday.
Earlier, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) announced that the first-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth slowed to 5.2 percent because of lower-than-expected pubic spending.
“A significant contributory factor to the slower growth rate is the 24.6 percent decline in public construction spending. This was due to delays in the actual disbursement of funds that are usually experienced at the start of the year,” he said.
He however noted that despite the lower-than-expected result, further analysis of the components of the GDP provides “sufficient room for optimism on faster growth in the next three quarters.”
Coloma said that of the total GDP pie, the private sector accounts for approximately 88 percent, while the government accounts for 12 percent.
“Private sector performance indicators point to faster growth during the next three quarters. Private construction increased by 14.2 percent and private investments in durable equipment rose by 14.3 percent. Moreover, growth in household consumption was sustained at 5.4 percent, equaling the growth rate attained in the past two years,” he said.
“These results are aligned with the findings of the Social Weather Stations that during the first quarter of the year, personal quality of life was at its highest in the past 30 years, while optimism about the national economy also remained high. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the business confidence index on the outlook for the next quarter rose to 58.2 percent from 43.1 percent in its previous survey,” he further said.
Coloma said that on March 30, President Aquino issued Administrative Order (AO) No. 46 to address key institutional areas of improvement that were noted in the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) year-end 2014 disbursement report, specifically on planning and program/project design, procurement, and program/project implementation bottlenecks.
He said the directives in AO 46 include the implementation of prompt budget execution measures, the enhancement of procurement efficiency, and the establishment of a full-time delivery unit, to be headed by an Undersecretary and fully staffed to ensure effective program and project implementation.
Coloma said that according to the DBM report, national government spending for the first quarter of 2015 was P504 billion, which is 4.5 percent higher than the comparable 2014 disbursement level of P482.5 billion.
“The cumulative rate of expansion reflects an acceleration in spending. From a decline of 5.4 percent in January, there was a 9.6 percent growth in February and an improvement of 11.8 percent in March. Nevertheless, total actual spending of P504 billion was P78.2 billion or 13.5 percent less than the targeted spending of P582.2 billion,” he explained.
Coloma also recalled that a 6.1 percent GDP growth was attained last year.
“While GDP grew up only 5.3 percent in the third quarter, a 6.6 percent growth was achieved in the fourth quarter as government spending rebounded,” he pointed out.
“The President acknowledges the business community’s continued confidence in the economy and support for the administration’s good governance program. He assures the citizenry that the government will exert intensive efforts to bring about the full fruition of reform and development programs that promote greater inclusion and sustainable long-term progress,” said Coloma.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.