Aquino wants gov't to speed up spending for 2015

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(File photo) President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino delivers his Annual State of the Nation Address on July 28, 2014 in Manila.

(CNN Philippines) — With a little over a year to go before his term ends, President Benigno Aquino III has issued reforms that aggressively ramp up government spending for 2015.

This move comes on the heels of 2014's slower than expected full-year gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.1%. The administration previously targeted an expansion rate between 6.5% to 7.5%.

Lower government spending has been cited as a major cause for last year's underperformance — and the economy also expected to slow down this year's growth if the status quo prevails.

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"Lower government spending, investment delays and slowdown, and weaker exports are likely to limit economic growth to… 6.5 percent in 2015," the World Bank said in highlights of its Philippine Economic Update for January 2015.

"Provided that government can fully commit to utilizing the budget as planned, as well as accelerating reforms, achieving growth of above 6.5 percent can be achieved," it added.

Under Aquino's Administrative Order 46 (A.O. 46), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said in a statement that by the end of April, government agencies will be required to finish the disaggregation of their project listings, and submit all documentary requirement for their respective allotments.

"Likewise, they should submit to the DBM and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OSC) their implementation plans for the programs and projects noted in the FY 2015 GAA [General Appropriations Act]."

The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Secretariats of various government agencies have their workforce expanded with the expected acquisition of full-time support staff. The A.O. also mandates the addition of more BACs in big departments that deal with the procurement of numerous or complex items, such as the Department of Education, the Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Department of Health.

“We have a strong procurement framework, but agencies won’t be able to make good use of it if they juggle their daily responsibilities with BAC duties," Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad said in a statement.

"We see now that introducing devoted BAC staff will go a long way in making the procurement process more efficient. If we clear this bottleneck, agencies can deliver public goods and services more quickly.”

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There have also been efforts for increased oversight. The A.O. directs departments and agencies to designate within their respective jurisdictions a full-time responsible officer — with a rank no lower than undersecretary — to monitor programs and projects.

“There was a clear need for us to adopt firmer and more aggressive measures so that the Budget can duly support the growing economy. The A.O. will allow us to strengthen agency capacities for implementing the budget and clear more of the bottlenecks that hamper efficient spending," Abad said.