Ituloy ang Build Build Build! Stella Quimbo urges DBM: Don’t touch infra budget despite COVID-19 crisis

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Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo has urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to leave the allocation for infrastructure projects under the 2020 national budget untouched despite the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Quimbo said reducing spending for infrastructure programs would lead to a significant decline in GDP growth as well as over a million in job losses.

“Given its multiplier effects, a conservative estimate would show that a P100 billion loss in the infrastructure budget would translate into a corresponding drop in GDP valued at P300 billion,” said the lawmaker, the co-chair of the economic cluster of the Defeat COVID-19 Committee.

Under National Budget Circular No. 580, the DBM said 35 percent of programmed appropriations under the 2020 national budget shall no longer be made available for release to government agencies starting April 1 this year.

The DBM also said at least 10 percent of the total released allotments to national government agencies for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlays that are not related to the COVID-19 response efforts shall no longer be available for obligation.

Instead of reducing infrastructure spending, Quimbo said Congress could provide additional funding of P650 billion for the “Build, Build, Build” program so that it could be expanded to cover projects in universal health care, education and food security.

These include projects for the construction, development, improvement or renovation of: modern health facilities that will complement the Universal Health Care Law and national preparedness for surges in demand for pandemics; public-school facilities with the aim of creating “Schools for the Future,” or schools geared towards competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution; infrastructure supportive of creative industries; and infrastructure for the agri-fishery industry geared towards food security and ensuring public health and nutrition.