Gov’t eyes P206.6-B infrastructure budget for 2015

By Leslie D. Venzon

MANILA, July 11 (PNA) — The government is looking to spend P206.6 billion for infrastructure projects in next year’s proposed P2.6-trillion budget which will be submitted to Congress after the President’s State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on July 28.

Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma bared this after President Benigno S. Aquino III convened the Cabinet on Friday for a first-pass review and discussion of the 2015 national budget parameters.

As presented by Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, the PCOO Secretary said the resources for national roads and bridges program of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have been increased from P130.4 billion to P186.6 billion.

He said the budget for tourism infrastructure development rose from P14.7 billion to P20 billion in a bid to boost target international tourist arrivals from 6.8 million to 8.2 million and domestic tourists from 47.7 million to 51.7 million.

Coloma said these projects are geared towards generating more jobs and expanding economic growth.

Apart from job generation and economic expansion, he said next year’s expenditure priorities include social protection and social services, enabling environment for inclusive development and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The PCOO chief said the budget for the administration’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program also rose from P62.6 billion to P78 billion due to increase in coverage from 4.3 million households to five million households as per National Household Targeting System.

Coloma said the allocation for the National Health Insurance Program also increased from P35.3 billion to P37.2 billion, while the provision of basic educational facilities from P44.6 billion to P52.7 billion.

“After the meeting that lasted for more than six hours, the President directed the Cabinet to further fine-tune the budget assumptions and planning parameters so that these may be fully explained and justified at the hearings to be conducted by the Congress,” he said.

Coloma said another meeting may be convened before the national expenditure program budget proposal is approved and finalized. (PNA)