MANILA – The Duterte administration’s economic managers are seeking to spare a total of 145 locally-funded projects from the government spending ban during the campaign period in the run-up to the midterm polls.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is banning all public works and the release of public funds from March 29 to May 12.
In a news forum in Manila on Wednesday, Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno announced that the economic team composed of Finance secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Socioeconomic Planning secretary Ernesto Pernia, and himself submitted to the Comelec the request to exempt key infrastructure projects from the election ban.
“The list includes 145 programs and projects of which 59 are being implemented by national government agencies, 82 by government corporations, three by constitutional fiscal autonomy group (CFAG), and one by ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” Diokno said in a separate text message.
A copy of the economic managers’ letter to Comelec Chairman Sheriff M. Abas listed the specific projects Duterte administration wants to be spared of the election spending ban.
“In view of the ‘Build, Build, Build’ agenda of the Duterte Administration designed to usher the envisioned ‘Golden Age of Infrastructure’, the Government has committed to increase public spending on infrastructure from 4.4 percent of the GDP in 2017 to at least 6.9 percent by 2022,” the according the letter.
“In order to ensure timely implementation of the priority infrastructure projects, the economic team of the administration is respectfully requesting the commission for an exemption of the priority infrastructure projects from the election ban,” it added.
The Budget chief earlier estimated the cost of projects at P500 billion.
The economic managers also provided Comelec with a list of 384 ongoing foreign-assisted programs and projects being implemented by national government agencies that are “deemed exempted from the election ban.”
Diokno has emphasized the need to exempt big-ticket projects from the spending ban, citing the delay in passing the proposed P3.757-trillion budget this year would have a P50-billion impact on infrastructure projects in the first quarter. (ABS-CBN News)