Government willing to spend more this year

The Philippine Star
Government willing to spend more this year
Photos show the buildings at the Ortigas Business District on November 8, 2022.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The government is ready to spend more on top of the P5.02-trillion budget allocation for the year as the country secures more revenue with economic reopening, effectively shrinking the budget gap.

On the sidelines of the Pilipinas Conference 2022 of the Stratbase ADR Institute yesterday, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the DBM could still release more resources to various government agencies.

Pangandaman said the easing of the budget deficit, when measured against gross domestic product (GDP), to 6.5 percent in the third quarter was also considered in the releases of the additional budget.

“I don’t have the projection yet on how much more will be released. But as long as agencies can still implement and push for projects and programs within the year, we can still work on that,” she told reporters.

Data from the DBM showed that the adjusted program for the year is now at P5.269 trillion as of end-October. This is P245.48 billion above the programmed P5.02 trillion budget for 2022.

Of the P5.269 trillion, 96.5 percent has been released or about P5.084 trillion as of last month.

Of the additional P245.48 billion, 82 percent or P200.19 billion of which went to unprogrammed appropriations.

“Our deficit right now is at 6.5 percent and our target projection based on the medium-term fiscal framework is at least 7.6 percent for this year so we are still within the target,” Pangandaman said.

“I’m happy with that because at least the agencies now are trying to use the money and utilize it even better just to be able to implement their projects. Another reason is also because the economy is open, that’s why we are trying to push for them to use their funds,” she said.

As to additional releases meant to provide financial assistance to vulnerable groups due to high inflation, the Budget chief emphasized that the DBM has yet to receive requests from other agencies.

Should there be new requests, Pangandaman said this would be up for discussion with the Department of Finance as to where the funds can be sourced.

Meanwhile, Pangandaman reiterated her confidence on the timely passage of the record P5.268-trillion budget for 2023.

Plenary debates in the Senate ended last week while committee amendments, the passage of the Senate version of the budget, and bicameral committee will be done this week.

The DBM is expecting that President Marcos will sign the budget by Dec.16.

As to the confidential and intelligence funds still being debated in the Senate, Pangandaman maintained that the funds are necessary for some of the programs and mandates of government agencies, as well as for national security.

“There is an existing circular and the use of intelligent funds is very defined. While it is considered to be a lump sum fund, before any disbursement or release of such a fund, the agencies submit where they are going to use it,” Pangandaman said.

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