April infra spending slowed due to stricter quarantine

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Public infrastructure spending in April climbed 45 percent year-on-year to P58.2 billion.

This was, however, lower than the March levels due mainly to the reimposition of stricter quarantine measures in the National Capital Region Plus in April.

The latest Department of Budget and Management (DBM) data showed that disbursements on infrastructure and other capital outlays last April rose from P40.1 billion a year ago. To recall, 75 percent of the economy ground to a halt last year as the country was placed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from mid-March to May 2020, which also delayed the implementation of big-ticket infrastructure projects.

The amount that the government spent on infrastructure in April, however, dropped 33.7 percent from the P87.8 billion in March. Metro Manila and four neighboring provinces accounting for half of the economy returned to ECQ and modified ECQ from end-March to mid-May after COVID-19 cases surged.

Despite the ECQ and MECQ, the government allowed infrastructure projects to continue as long as they adhered to minimum health standards.

In a report, the DBM attributed the year-on-year increase in April infrastructure spending to projects implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) across the country. These include the construction and rehabilitation of bridges as well as access, by-pass and diversion roads; flood mitigation activities like slope/river bank protection and dredging works; and the design and construction of off-site modular hospitals, linear parks, and other government administrative buildings.

The DBM said infrastructure spending slowed the decline in government disbursements in April to P336.3 billion from P461.7 billion a year ago.

From January to April, the government spent P253.4 billion on infrastructure, up 29.1 percent from P196.2 billion a year ago.

“Infrastructure spending [as of end-April] was propelled by the payments made for completed and partially completed infrastructure projects of the DPWH and mobilization costs of ongoing construction activities mainly for its road projects,” the DBM said.

“Payments made related to foreign-assisted projects of the Department of Transportation, such as the Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1 and North-South Commuter Railway Project, also contributed to the higher infrastructure and other capital outlays for the [first four-month] period,” it added. The DBM said preliminary May expenditures data indicated that government spending “likely exceeded the growth rate posted in the same month last year” partly due to big disbursements by the DPWH.

The Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee planned to spend the most on public infrastructure during the second quarter, with P324.9 billion in the program. Expenditures on infrastructure amounted to P243 billion in the first quarter. The programmed infrastructure disbursements for the third and fourth quarters were P229.5 billion and P221.6 billion, respectively. INQ


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