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Diokno optimistic of further rise in gov’t spending

MANILA — Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno is optimistic about further increase of government spending but sees the budget deficit will not hit the three percent of gross domestic product (GDP) target.

“Most likely we’ll be below the target… but higher than last year,” he said.

In the first nine months this year, the budget gap reached PHP378.2 billion, 78 percent higher than the PHP213.1 billion same period last year but 5 percent short compared to the PHP396.6 billion programmed for the first three quarters of this year.

In 2017, the government’s budget deficit reached PHP350.637 billion, about 2.2 percent of domestic output.

The government is firm in increasing its spending, especially on infrastructure investments, as it bids to sustain above 6 percent growth of the domestic economy.

Citing Department of Budget and Management data, Diokno said as of Oct. 25, the agency released about 95.5 percent of the allocations for this year, higher than the 90.1 percent released in end-October 2017.

Under the government’s massive infrastructure program called “Build, Build, Build”, it plans to spend at least PHP8 trillion until President Rodrigo Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

Diokno said he is in constant communication with Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade regarding the implementation of various infrastructure programs of the government. (Joann Villanueva/PNA)

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