DBM reports 'impressive' government spending in 2017

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 28) — The Department of Budget and Management on Wednesday gave the good news: government spending was up in 2017.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said spending in December 2017 amounted to P330.2 billion, which is 17 percent higher year-on-year.

For the full year 2017, spending stood at P2.824 trillion, or an 11 percent increase from 2016.

Pointing out the high underspending of 13.3 percent and 12.8 percent in 2014 and 2015 respectively, Diokno said the quick fund disbursement cut underspending to 2 percent in 2017. The high underspending years were under the Aquino administration.

Higher spending means agencies are able to use their funds faster, which then leads to more economic activity and productivity.

Diokno said the rise in spending is "impressive" given circumstances in 2016.

"Why (is this) impressive? Let me remind you that 2016 was an election year. And usually an election year, there's heavy spending by the adminsitration and it (also) was the final year of an outgoing administration. Usually those characteristics would mean that spending would be quite high," Diokno said in a media briefing.

He attributed this to disbursements in line with the Duterte administration's "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program. He added the subsidies to government corporations, which primarily used them for housing and irrigation projects, as well as the National Health Insurance Program also contributed to the rise in government spending.

Infrastructure projects covered by disbursements last year include bridge replacements in Luzon, Central Visayas, and Mindanao and flood control and dike rehabilitation projects in Pampanga, Pangsinan, Nueva Ecija, and Metro Manila.