November 21, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Infra push drives 2018 budget growth for DPWH, DOTr

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) topped the list of budget increases in the 2018 national budget to help sustain the government’s infrastructure program, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Friday.

In a statement, DBM said DPWH and DOTr’s budgets for 2018 were P643.3 billion and P73.8 billion, up 37.5% and 32.6% respectively, reflecting the government’s planned infrastructure buildup.

The DBM said the comparable 2017 growth rates were 17.8% for the DPWH and 25.7% for the DOTr.

Also obtaining major allocations were the Department of Education (P691.1 billion), Department of Interior and Local Government (P172.3 billion), Department of Health (P164.3 billion), Department of National Defense (P145 billion), Department of Social Welfare and Development (P138 billion), Department of Agriculture (P54.2 billion), thr Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (P33.5 billion), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (P27.9 billion).

By spending area, social services got the biggest share with an allocation of P1.450 trillion or 38.5% of the 2018 budget.

“This reflects the government’s determination to develop the country’s human resources through huge investments in education, culture, manpower, labor protection and healthcare, as well as promote inclusive growth,” DBM said.

Economic services came second with an appropriation of P1.153 trillion or 30.6% of next year’s budget. The bulk of this sector’s budget will be used in infrastructure development, DBM said.

General public services were allocated P636.5 billion, followed by debt service (P370.8 billion) and defense (P155.7 billion).

President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his Cabinet approved on July 3 the proposed P3.767-trillion 2018 budget, which is about 12.4% more than the 2017 edition.

However this was lower than the initially-planned P3.84 trillion, due to lower-than-expected expected revenue from the watered-down tax reform program, which has been approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading.

As the DBM is planning to submit the 2018 general appropriations act right after Mr. Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on July 24, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said that he hopes the legislation can hurdle both houses of Congress by October.

If the budget is passed early, Mr. Diokno said procurement can proceed, aiding in the immediate rollout of government projects. “That way we can see faster spending,” he said.

Asked about the challenges that the DBM might face once the 2018 budget is submitted to Congress for deliberations, Mr. Diokno, in an interview at Malacañang yesterday, said: “Either they agree or disagree with the budget. We submit it earlier so they have more time.” -- Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral