DBM: Absolutely no underspending

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management on Wednesday denied lawmakers’ claim that the Duterte administration is slacking on spending.

“There is absolutely no underspending to speak of,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said during a press conference. “The government is ahead in its disbursements. In fact, we are slightly overspending.”

The DBM said underspending is defined as “the difference of programmed disbursements from actual disbursements.”

Based on government data, the DBM said actual government disbursements exceeded the program by P62.6 billion or 2.6 percent in the first nine months of 2018.

“From an annual underspending rate of 13.3 percent and 12.8 percent in 2014 and 2015, respectively, it was cut to 2.9 percent in 2017,” the Budget department said.

“This improved rate of spending indicates quicker delivery of programs in health, education, and poverty-reduction and the faster implementation and completion of public infrastructure projects,” it added.

The previous Aquino administration bagged successive credit rating improvements for the Philippines as the government focused on improving revenue collections while fixing spending frameworks that were believed to have facilitated irregularities in past.

That crackdown, however, caused the past administration to miss its spending targets.

President Rodrigo Duterte focused the first two of his six years on unclogging bottlenecks that had caused chronic state underspending in the past, in a bid to supercharge economic growth to 7-8 percent until the end of his term in 2022.

READ: DBM: no spending slack from poll ban

In a recent interview, Moody’s Investors Service Senior Credit Officer Christian de Guzman said “budget execution for 2018 is actually largely on track and that means it will also spill into 2019.” — Ian Nicolas Cigaral

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