Philippines: Economic team wants 145 projects off poll ban

  • The executive branch will release funds in 2019 according to state offices’ spending capacity despite Congress’ opposition to the scheme, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in a press briefing on 20 Feb 19.
  • He also added that President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s economic managers have signed a request for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to exempt 145 infrastructure projects from the 45-day ban on public works ahead of the mid-term elections.
  • The request seeks the exemption of locally funded projects as well as those financed by official development assistance (ODA).
  • The list includes farm-to-market roads, new school buildings, the national ID system, as well as big-ticket items like the Mindanao Rail Project, phase one of the Metro Manila Subway and the New Bohol (Panglao) International Airport.
  • The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) listed 59 projects implemented by national government agencies, 82 under state corporations, three for constitutional bodies and one from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
  • Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez had said that the poll body will not grant a blanket waiver and will need a detailed list of projects. ODA-funded projects are actually not covered by the ban, which will take effect 29 Mar 19 to 12 May 19.
  • Mr. Diokno also added that they will forge ahead with cash-based fund releases for the PHP3.757tr spending plan, saying Mr. Duterte is prepared to issue an executive order if warranted.
  • Mr. Diokno claimed the Duterte administration has moved faster in terms of project implementation, than the three years under the old public-private partnership scheme.
  • “If it’s the old system, we won’t be able to do our Build, Build, Build. I can assure you that because it’s a slow process and we cannot attract new contractors.”
  • Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said Malacañang is “supportive” of the shift in the budget process.

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