• New DBM Sec. Benjamin Diokno vows to cut underspending in government
  • Diokno returns to his old post he held from 1998 to 2001
  • Diokno says the Duterte admin would focus on infrastructure

Newly-installed Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno returns to his old post, promising to stop government underspending, and reviewing the 2017 National Budget.

Diokno had previously held the position under the administration of former President Joseph Estrada, but stepped down in 2001. He later taught at the University of the Philippines and remained in the academe before being tapped once again by President Rodrigo Duterte as the new budget chief.

Diokno emphasized that in line with President Duterte’s economic plans, the DBM under his watch would prioritize expenditure on vital infrastructure.

“The Duterte administration will not spend money for spending’s sake. The economy is deficient in all types of infrastructure—highways and bridges, ports and airports,” he told the Inquirer.

He also plans to end underspending among government agencies by exerting more effort in the budget preparation process, even encouraging department secretaries and undersecretaries to undergo retraining.

“First of all, I will put a lot of effort in budget preparation. I know that underspending is partly due to poor budget preparation. Many programs and projects are included in the annual budget, yet they are not ready to implement. Some departments ask for a budget that they are unable to implement: they bite more than what they can chew,” the DBM Secretary said.

Diokno also laid out the overall vision of the Duterte administration in the next six years, which includes: higher infrastructure spending of 5-7 percent of the GDP; investment in human resources such as education, healthcare, and nutrition, in order to develop a dynamic and nimble work force; agriculture modernization and rural development in order to make growth inclusive; raising rural incomes; and making food available and affordable.

“We will adopt economic measures so that a bigger part of the budget will be used for projects that will truly benefit the Filipino people,” he added.