Saturday, 14 February 2009

Philippines sets release of P100 billion for pump-priming projects

BusinessWorld Online

FOUR GOVERNMENT departments will be authorized this month to begin using up to P100 billion for projects aimed at pump-priming the economy.

Special allotment release orders (SAROs), Budget Secretary Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. yesterday said, will be issued for the Public Works, Transportation, Education and Agriculture departments.

"They have already submitted their spending program to me for the first quarter, around 60% of their total infrastructure spending for the year." Mr. Andaya told Palace reporters.

"I am supposed to release the SAROs for this not later than the end of February."

Government plans to increase spending are "iunderway", he said, adding about 70-80% of infrastructure spending would be done within the first six months of the year.

Mr. Andaya said the delayed implementation of this year’s P1.415 trillion budget would not affect the pump-priming goal.

"The delayed implementation of the budget is a non-issue. We have that mechanism called [the] reenacted budget. And we simply follow the rules on reenacted budget which enabled us to have an early release [of funds]," he said.

The 2009 budget, approved by Congress last month, will take effect by early April, Mr. Andaya said.

"We officially received a copy from Congress yesterday (Thursday)," he said.

University of the Philippines economist Benjamin E. Diokno has said the delayed transmittal and approval of the budget could affect pump-priming initiatives intended for the first half.

"I’m sure there are significant changes from what President [Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo submitted last July and what Congress approved last month. They could draft a veto message. The Palace will have to look into it and that process, including consolidation, will take at least two weeks," he said.

A P330-billion economic stimulus plan designed to mitigate the impact of the global downturn will partly be funded by the 2009 budget, officials have said.

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