Gov’t budget utilization hits 98% as of end-Sept.

BW FILE PHOTO

GOVERNMENT AGENCIES raised their cash utilization rate to 98% at the end of September, as the economy continued to reopen, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reported on Thursday.

The DBM said the National Government, local governments and state-owned firms used 98% of the P3.11 trillion in Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) issued to them in the first nine months of the year, leaving P52.15 billion unused.

This was an improvement from the year earlier usage rate of 95%, while utilization as of end-August was also at 95%.

NCAs are a quarterly disbursement authority from the DBM issued to agencies, allowing the latter to withdraw funds from the Bureau of the Treasury to support their spending needs.

“Government agencies have been very active in disbursement most likely in the financing of programs and projects since the economy is more open now,” Asian Institute of Management economist John Paolo R. Rivera said in a Viber message, citing expenditures on relief operations after recent typhoons and the continuation of programs from the previous administration such as the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort likewise attributed the improved cash utilization rate to the continued reopening of the economy. He noted there are less disruptions this year, compared with the lockdowns and mobility restrictions in 2021.

“Government spending was expedited, especially before the election ban and some elected officials also rushed the completion of some government projects before the elections,” Mr. Ricafort said in a Viber message.

A ban on public works was implemented from March 25 to May 8, in an effort to prevent politicians from using state resources for their election campaign. The national election was held on May 9.

According to the DBM, line departments used 98% or P2.1 trillion of their NCAs in the nine months, leaving P51.63 billion unused.

The departments of Foreign Affairs, Health, Interior and Local Government, National Defense, Transportation, as well as the Judiciary, the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Audit, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Human Rights recorded the highest budget usage rates at 100%.

Meanwhile, the Department of Information and Communications Technology posted the lowest rate of 67%.

Budgetary support to government-owned companies as well as allotments to local government units were 100% used in the nine-month period, out of P965.26-billion NCAs issued.

The DBM had released 99.7% of this year’s P5.01-trillion spending plan as of September, leaving P12.76 billion for the remainder of the year.

In the same period last year, the DBM had released P4.35 trillion or 96.5% of that year’s P4.51-trillion budget. — Diego Gabriel C. Robles