81% of projects implemented

Four-fifths of programmed public infrastructure projects for the year have been implemented in the first quarter, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), in line with the thrust to ramp up spending.

Eighty-one percent of agency-initiated infrastructure projects are "ongoing construction," with the rest of the programs awaiting contract approval and notices to proceed, according to a progress report presented by Public Works Secretary Rogelio L. Singson to the Financial Executives Institute on March 20.

According to the DPWH presentation, a total of 1,790 road construction, upgrading and repair projects have started as of March 15.

In a statement released late last month, Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said the DPWH has as of Feb. 15 bid out 85% of its programmed 2,139 infrastructure projects this year, equivalent to P63.5 billion.

"We are completing the preparation of design and program of work in the procurement process," Mr. Singson said in a text message yesterday when asked about the status of remaining projects that have yet to begin construction.

Accelerated spending is a result of the DPWH’s reform initiatives along with the agency’s campaign to fight out corruption and professionalize service of the department, Mr. Singson said in the report, which was e-mailed to media yesterday by Guillermo M. Luz, private sector cochairman of the National Competitiveness Council.

During budget hearings at the Senate last year, Mr. Singson disclosed that only P500 million out of the P90.9 billion infrastructure funds were spent in the first semester of 2011. The secretary said the department this time seeks to be more prudent in spending, ensuring that contracts with the right amount are awarded to deserving bidders.

Government underspending and weakening global economy were blamed for the slower-than-expected growth of 3.7% last year, lower than the government’s revised 5%-6% target.

original source: www.bworldonline.com