THE government will spend P82.79 billion on infrastructure within the first quarter to spur economic growth and create 900,000 jobs, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said yesterday.
He said President Arroyo sought a report from six departments on Tuesday to make sure at least 80 percent of the total financing for infrastructure projects was spent in the first three months.
Another P10 billion would be doled out to 669,016 households, double the number of last year’s beneficiaries, to help them ride out the economic downturn, he said.
“The biggest bulk will come from the Public Works Department at P62.5 billion,” Ermita said.
“These projects will create 736,930 jobs” initially.
Ermita said the government’s public works projects had already been bid out. Of those, 1,457 worth P54 billion would be financed from local funds, and the rest worth P8.8 billion would be foreign-assisted.
Some 77 projects of the Transport Department were also under way, and of those 41 would be bid out next month.
At least 11,065 jobs would also be created once the Agrarian Reform Department started work on farm-to-market roads worth P547 million, Ermita said.
“There are 63 ongoing farm-to-market road projects while 374 are at the pre-implementation stage,” he said.
Agrarian Reform is also spending P150 million on new irrigation to create 2,540 jobs. Its microfinance projects are expected to benefit 6,607 borrowers.
Ermita said 84 percent of the Education Department’s new elementary and high school buildings worth P1.45 billion would be finished next month.
The Health Department will upgrade 98 government hospitals at a total cost of P1.32 billion.
The state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. is increasing its annual benefits to members by 35 percent.
The Environment Department will spend P2 billion to plant new trees to create 110,429 jobs.
Ermita said the Social Welfare Department would dole out money to 670,000 poor families in 47 provinces, 19 cities and 170 municipalities. A family of five with a total income of not more than P6,000 a month would qualify to receive up to P15,000 a year, he said. Joyce Pangco Pañares, Manila Standard Today