Infra, capital spending hits P681B in 2020

The government surpassed its infrastructure and capital spending program for last year despite lower disbursements in December, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Friday.

The department’s latest disbursement data showed that spending declined to P132.3 billion in the last month of 2020, down 25.6 percent from P177.9 billion a year earlier.

It attributed the lower disbursements “to the discontinuance of capital outlay projects and delays in construction activities at the earlier part of 2020.”

The amount, nevertheless, was still bigger than the P40.3 billion spent in November.
The December figure brought full-year infrastructure and capital spending to P681.1 billion, a 22.8-percent decrease from 2019’s P881.7 billion, but surpassing the government’s P609.3-billion program for 2020.

“The greater-than-program infrastructure spending can be attributed principally to the strong performance of the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), which, despite the pandemic, completed various projects, in different regions nationwide….” the Budget department said.

These include road construction and improvement; bridge construction, repair and retrofitting; flood control; local infrastructure; farm-to-market roads; school buildings; tourism road projects; access roads to airports and seaports; and evacuation centers.

This puts total state spending, which included expenditures for maintenance, personnel services and subsidies, at P4.22 trillion, up 11.3 percent from P3.79 billion in 2019.

In an outlook, the DBM said the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget “will help the nation address the pandemic, boost infrastructure development and generate job opportunities, and assist communities in adapting to the postpandemic life.”

The extended validity of the available appropriation under Republic Act 11494, or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” (Bayanihan 2) and the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) should contribute to fiscal stimulus this year, besides the 2021 outlay, it added.

A total of P2.30 trillion, or nearly 87 percent of the P2.64-trillion agency-specific budget under the 2021 GAA, was released under the budget’s “For Comprehensive Release” portion as early as the first working day of 2021.

“The release of the said funds, complemented by the early procurement activities of spending agencies, should kick-start the timely implementation of PAPs (programs, activities and/or projects) during the year and aid in the country’s much-needed economic recovery,” it said.

Allotment releases

Also on Friday, the DBM announced it released P3.44 trillion of the 2021 appropriations in February.

Allotment releases in January were already 76.5 percent of this year’s outlay. The amount was wider than the P3.17 trillion released in the first two months of 2020.

Of the total, P2.29 trillion went to line departments, which include funds allocated to agencies and other constitutional offices.

A total of P90.84 billion was released as special purpose funds (SPFs), which are budgetary allocations in the GAA for specific socioeconomic purposes.

Allotment releases for automatic appropriations, or appropriations programmed annually, hit P988.54 billion.

These include P56.29 billion for retirement and life insurance premiums, P695.49 billion for internal revenue allotments, P71.66 billion for block grants, P480,000 for the pension of ex-presidents and widows of former presidents, P20.70 billion for special account for the general fund; P7.17 billion for net lending, P132.88 billion for interest payments, and P4.30 billion for tax expenditures fund/Customs duties and taxes.