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All debt, debt, debt? Win Gatchalian wants to know how gov’t will finance infra projects

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There is a need to closely monitor the debt obligations and modes of financing adopted by the Duterte administration to fund its ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program.

Senator Win Gatchalian stressed this recently to ensure “judicious, prudent, and sound economic planning” by the government.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, recently filed Senate Resolution No. 759, which calls for a Senate inquiry into the financial requirements of BBB.

He wants to review the status, sustainability, and risks of projects under the Duterte administration’s BBB infrastructure program.

The senator raised the need to ensure “transparency, accountability, and prudent use of loans and other financing methods utilized by the government.”

He said that 40 out of 75 approved infrastructure projects as of July 2017 will be funded through Official Development Assistance (ODA), which comprises the bulk of expenditures amounting to P1.006 trillion.

He said that the total outstanding debt of the national government as of December 2017 reached P6.65 trillion, while around P329.05 billion was allocated for debt servicing in the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

This month, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that the country’s external debt-to-GDP ratio was 23.3% in 2017, a five-year low and a 5.6% decrease from the 28.9% ratio recorded in 2013.

“It is incumbent upon us senators, in the exercise of our power of the purse, to ensure that public funds diverted from health, education, and social services financing for debt services payment are properly appropriated,” Gatchalian said.

A flagship infrastructure program of the administration, the BBB is expected to spur infrastructure spending from 2017 to 2022 to about P8 to P9 trillion, resulting in annual infra spending of P1.4 trillion.

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