NEDA’s Chua says next gov’t can afford infrastructure spending


THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) expects infrastructure spending to be sustained in the next administration, after tax reform enhanced its ability to finance projects.

“It is sustainable. We have implemented a series of tax reforms before the pandemic and during the pandemic,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said Wednesday.

“I still see the medium-term infrastructure budget to be around 5% (of gross domestic product or GDP). There is still a big infrastructure gap, and as we grow to become an upper middle-income country, we will realize that we need to upgrade some of our infrastructure to be smarter, more technologically aligned with the developments, and more innovative.”

Government spending on infrastructure grew 44.6% to P570.4 billion in the first eight months of the year, according to the Department of Budget and Management.

The government set a P1.02-trillion infrastructure budget for 2021, equivalent to 5.1% of GDP.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee raised the spending cap on the infrastructure program to P1.29 trillion or 5.8% of GDP for 2022.

Noting that the infrastructure program has so far focused on road and transport, Mr. Chua identified digital and information technology as priority infrastructure for the next administration.

“We have an enabler for this, the national ID,” he said, adding that 37-40 million have been registered. — Jenina P. Ibanez