GOVERNMENT underspending was highest in the Agriculture and Education Departments, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Wednesday but added he remained confident they would hit the P2.909-trillion spending target at the end of the year.
He told reporters the slow budget spending in the two departments were mostly due to the demand to build more farm-to-market roads and school buildings that were not being addressed quickly.
“The budget is with the DepEd, but the construction arm of the country is [the Department of] Public Works [and Highways]. It’s really up to Public Works to do the projects,” Diokno said.
The Office of the President likewise had chunks of budget still unspent as of September 2017, but those were mostly funds to be used in the country’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings this year, Diokno said.
Fiscal spending reached P201.6 billion in August, up 13.9 percent from P177 billion a year earlier.
As of the end of August, some P462.7 billion of the P3.35-trillion obligation program for the full year was still to be released.
Of the amount, P236.8 billion has been earmarked for Special Purpose Funds.
Disbursements in August was up by 13.9 percent, while year-to-date disbursements rose by 9.8 percent.
Diokno is confident the government will be able to hit the P2.909-trillion spending target this year amid criticism of underspending in the previous administrations.
“We are optimistic that we will approach our full-year target of P2.909 trillion and will continue to exert our best efforts to reach our goals,” Diokno said.
“Disbursements will continue to be buoyed by the higher spending requirements of line agencies in the succeeding months given the acceleration of program or project implementation as we approach the year-end.”