State spending on infrastructure and capital outlays slipped again last November as lockdowns continued to delay various government projects, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The Budget department’s latest disbursement report on Tuesday showed that expenditures eased to P40.3 billion in the 11th month of 2020, a 50.2-percent decrease from P80.9 billion a year ago and a 29.4-percent decline from October’s P57.1 billion.

The DBM blamed the decline on “various delays caused by the imposition of community quarantine measures to contain the further spread of the Covid-19 virus in early 2020, as well as the one-time expense in 2019 for the building constructions of the Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.”

In the first 11 months, disbursements dropped by 22 percent to P548.8 billion from P703.8 billion in the same period in 2019, “mainly due to the delays encountered in the implementation of public works during the imposition of Covid-19 community quarantine measures, and the discontinuance or deferment of some capital outlay projects that can no longer be implemented nor completed because of the pandemic pursuant to the Bayanihan 1 law,” it said.

Formally known as Republic Act 11469, or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” Bayanihan 1 covered aid to disadvantaged or displaced workers during the pandemic; grants to cities, municipalities and provinces; and purchase of coronavirus detection kits, among others.

The law expired last June 25.

The disbursement amount brought total state spending in the period — including those for maintenance, personnel services and subsidies — to P3.68 trillion. This is 11.6 percent or P382.9 billion higher than the year-ago amount, which the Budget department attributed to “maintenance spending as a result of the implementation of Covid-19 measures.”

The DBM also traced the uptick to the allotment and capital transfers to local government units (LGU) from the one-time Covid-19 Bayanihan Grant to the Provinces, Cities, and Municipalities; higher internal revenue allotments of LGUs; and the releases for the annual block grant to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

In an outlook, the department anticipated spending for December 2020 “to quicken further [than] earlier months, as line departments fast-track the implementation of their programs/projects and settle outstanding payables before the year ends and ahead of the agency closing of books.”

Full-year disbursements for 2020 are estimated to settle at P4.23 trillion, P436.0 billion or 11.5 percent higher than the year before, based on emerging estimates presented at the 178th Development Budget Coordination Committee meeting on December 3.

It said big-spending departments, particularly the Departments of Public Works and Highways and others implementing Covid-19 recovery measures, such as the Health, Social Welfare, Labor, Education, Transportation and Agriculture departments, have committed to implement catch-up plans as agreed upon at the Economic Development Committee meeting on November 18.





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