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May 28, 2024

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman assured investors that the national government will successfully address underspending this 2024. 

At the Philippine Economic Briefing held in Pasay City on May 27, 2024, Pangandaman emphasized during the panel discussion on “Shaping a Macroeconomic Landscape Conducive for Investments” that there will be less risk of underspending in the second quarter due to the immediate release of allotments to government agencies as early as January, which will enable the timely and accelerated implementation of their priority programs and projects included in the FY 2024 National Budget. 

Secretary Pangandaman also reported that, as of the end of April, more than 80 percent of the FY 2024 budget had already been released. 

New Government Procurement Act 

The Budget Chief likewise highlighted the ratification of the Bicameral Report on the New Government Procurement Act (NGPA) as a crucial step to address underspending as it institutionalized the conduct of early procurement activities.

“Agencies can already bid out their projects by the time we issue the National Expenditure Program to Congress. By the time we have our General Appropriations Act, they can already award the same,” the Secretary explained.

The House of Representatives and Senate of the Philippines ratified the Bicameral Report on the NGPA, reconciling the provisions of Senate Bill No. 2593 and House Bill No. 9648 last May 22.

Digital transformation, PFM reforms 

Digitalizing the bureaucracy is another crucial step to address underspending shared by the Budget Chief. 

For FY 2024, the total digitalization budget more than doubled to Php 64.6 billion, higher by 159.1 percent compared with the Php 24.93 billion budget last year.

“We expect those amounts will increase efficiency in terms of government spending,” the Budget Chief further emphasized, citing other Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms to address procurement and implementation bottlenecks, including the Cash Budgeting System (CBS) and the National Government Rightsizing Program (NGRP). 

The CBS shall promote operational efficiency and fiscal discipline among agencies by prescribing a strict timeline for the obligation, implementation, and payment period for government programs and projects. 

The NGRP, meanwhile, aims to streamline the operations of government agencies, rightsize their organizational structure and workforce complement, improve interoperability in government agencies, and eliminate functions, programs, and projects that are already redundant, overlapping, or no longer necessary.

“We hope to pass all of these by this year,” Secretary Pangandaman shared. 

PH On-the-Go: Fast-Tracking Economic Progress 

Joining the Budget Chief in the first panel discussion were Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Ralph G. Recto, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Senior Assistant Governor Iluminada T. Sicat, and International Monetary Fund Resident Representative to the Philippines Ragnar Gudmundsson. The panel was moderated by Nomura Chief ASEAN Economist Euben Paracuelles. 

The second panel, which discussed driving investments to the Philippines, was composed of Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs Secretary Frederick D. Go, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Asis G. Perez, and Ayala Corporation Inc. Independent Director Rizalina G. Mantaring; and was moderated by American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Sara Murphy. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center Executive Director Ma. Cynthia C. Hernandez also served as off-panel resource persons.  

The final panel, which discussed navigating the country’s investment landscape, was composed of Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan, Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista, Department of Information and Communications Technology Undersecretary Jeffrey Ian Dy, and Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Mario C. Marasigan. It was moderated by Standard Chartered Bank Global Head for Real Assets Group Shikhar Jain. 

Spearheaded by the BSP and the DOF, the PEB 2024, hosted by DBM Undersecretary Margaux Salcedo, “highlights the country’s commitment to accelerating economic growth through sustained momentum, major infrastructure projects, innovation and technology, attractive investment opportunities, sustainable and inclusive development, and policy reforms.”