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January 4, 2009
Philippines to save expense on infrastructure
The Philippine government is expected to pay less for its infrastructure projects this year since prices of materials have gone down due to lower global demand, a local daily reported online.

“Changes in costs…of five to 15 percent" will be seen this year, since current projects are based on prices of materials last year, Department of Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Rafael C. Yabut was quoted by GMA news as saying.

Prices of steel and oil have significantly declined after the global crisis reduced demand for these commodities. However, the same slowdown is seen to trim appetite for Philippine exports and lessen the country’s foreign investments.

To curb effects of the global crisis, the government has vowed to undertake additional spending for infrastructure projects to create jobs, which, in turn, will also boost domestic demand for goods and services.

Earlier, the DPWH sought an early release of funds so that it could “jumpstart" infrastructure projects that will create additional jobs to boost the economy.

The agency said that its funds are usually released by the second half, leading to project delays owing to the rainy season.

If approved, the proposed “frontloading policy" will allow the agency to maximize “good construction weather" during the early part of the year, an official said.

Currently, the agency “is awaiting guidance" on this initiative that will “jumpstart the implementation of the projects scheduled for 2009,"

Approximately 65 to 70 percent of this year’s 83.3 billion peso budget has already been allocated.

For next year, the department’s proposed budget is 112.3 billion peso, 34.8 percent higher than 2008’s figures. 99.7 billion peso has been allotted for infrastructure.

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