Diokno confident huge infrastructure projects to be exempted from poll ban
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno expressed confidence on Wednesday that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will grant the request to exempt from the election ban the implementation of the big-ticket infrastructure projects for this year.
Under the law, the Comelec will ban public works construction and disbursement of public funds from March 29 to May 12 due the holding of the midterm polls.
"We're confident that our request will be granted," Diokno said in his regular weekly forum.
Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said they would ask 75 flagship infrastructure projects be exempted during the election ban.
Diokno said for this year, the proposed budget for infrastructure is about P1 trillion.
"So we can say that may be at least half of the trillion pesos will need to get started this first quarter," he said.
He said it is important to start the projects during "dry months."
The government could not also begin with the other infrastructure projects due to the absence of the 2019 budget. The national government is now operating under the 2018 re-enacted budget.
In a separate briefing in Malacanang, Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito Lambino II, meanwhile, reiterated the call to Congress to immediately pass the proposed P3.757 trillion budget for this year.
Quoting Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, he said the delay in the approval of the budget means about P500 million a day is "not circulating."
As to the impact on the economy, he said, citing Pernia's estimate, this could be a decline by 1.0-2.3 percentage points on the gross domestic product for full year.
Lambino said it would be welcome if the Comelec would grant the request to exempt huge public works construction from the election ban. Celerina Monte/DMS