MANILA – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Benjamin Diokno directed government agencies to come up with a catch-up plan as spending fell below the government's target in the first semester of the year.
Diokno expressed concern that the government is not meeting its expenditure target, adding that he is "not happy with a smaller deficit."
"We held a meeting sometime before we left for Malaysia, we talked to agencies, we asked them to come up with their own catch-up plan. The problem is they are underspending," Diokno said in his weekly press briefing.
"Their budget was increased significantly this year, they’re still not spending at par. We expect them to come up with a catch-up plan. I think underspending - DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) is the slowest and also DOTr (Department of Transportation). Those two agencies," he added.
Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) data released last week showed that the national government's cumulative budget gap for the first half of the year amounted to PHP551.7 billion, down by 18.17 percent from last year's PHP674.2 billion.
The first-half budget gap is also 28.49 percent below the PHP771.5 billion mid-year deficit program.
Spending during the period amounted to PHP2.4 trillion, 6.6 percent below the PHP2.58 trillion programmed in the first half of the year.
"Sometimes Congress made a lot of changes in the budget, there are new projects introduced in the budget. And since they are new, they maybe do not have feasibility study, engineering, so they cannot start building, that’s one of the reasons also," he said.
Diokno however said the Finance department is still optimistic agencies will be able to catch up.
"The underspending is not that big unlike other years. This time it's just a matter of procurement delays," he said. (PNA)