DBM: Gov’t committed to raise Mindanao share of national budget

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DAVAO CITY — Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the government is commitment to pump-prime Mindanao’s growth by increasing its share in the national budget, with the main southern island historically being allocated a 13% share.

“Mindanao will receive at last P17 billion or 38% of the total infrastructure projects of the entire Philippines for 2018. It will get 33.8% of the total capital outlays for the whole country, so that’s more than one third,” Mr. Diokno said in an interview with the media before his scheduled talk at last Friday’s launch of the “Philippines Mindanao Jobs Report: A Strategy of Mindanao Regional Development” in Davao.

“We are committed to increase investments, both infrastructure and human capital so that we can pump-prime Mindanao’s economy and help it realize its potential,” he added.

To support the “Build, Build, Build” program, Mr. Diokno said the government is set to increase the national budget next year to “approximately P3.7 trillion on a cash basis.”

This year’s P1.06-trillion budget for infrastructure is equivalent to 6.1% of gross domestic product (GDP), higher than 5.4% in 2017.

Mr. Diokno said the government aims to increase the infrastructure budget to 7.3% of GDP by 2021.

Among the infrastructure projects in Mindanao in various stages of implementation are: the P31.5-billion, 105-kilometer (km) Davao segment of the 830-kilometer Mindanao Railway System; the P19.8-billion Davao City Bypass Road; the P24.8-billion Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network (MLIN), which started in 2015 and will be completed this year; the P4.86-billion Panguil Bay Bridge; and the P2.23-billion, 36.8-km Zamboanga City Bypass Road.

The government has also allocated P986 million to upgrade equipment at various airports in Mindanao for night operations. Among these are the airports in Cotabato, Dipolog, Ozamiz, and Pagadian Cities.

“The importance (of this) is that it will increase mobility and it can be used during nighttime. The disadvantage of not being night-rated is that after six (p.m.), you can’t use it anymore,” he said.

Also in the pipeline this year are the bidding for the operation and maintenance of the international airports in Davao, with an estimated cost of P40.6 billion, and Laguindingan, the airport serving Cagayan de Oro, at P14.6 billion. — Carmencita A. Carillo