Philippines congress approves 15 per cent increase in 2015 national budget

A tricycle speeds past a fallen electric pylon destroyed by Typhoon Hagupit along the national highway in San Julian town, Eastern Samar province, on Dec 9, 2014. A joint congressional panel has approved a 15 per cent increase in the government's nat
A tricycle speeds past a fallen electric pylon destroyed by Typhoon Hagupit along the national highway in San Julian town, Eastern Samar province, on Dec 9, 2014. A joint congressional panel has approved a 15 per cent increase in the government's national budget next year to boost infrastructure spending, including in typhoon-hit regions. -- PHOTO: AFP 

MANILA (REUTERS) - A joint congressional panel approved a 15 per cent increase in Philippine government's national budget next year to boost infrastructure spending, including in typhoon-hit regions, encourage economic activity and create jobs.

The 2015 budget will boost spending to 2.6 trillion pesos (S$76 billion) from a planned 2.26 trillion pesos this year, Francis Escudero, head of the Senate finance panel said.

The approval will pave the way for the signing of the budget bill into law by President Benigno Aquino this month.

The government is under pressure to accelerate spending to prevent the economy from losing more momentum.

Growth slowed to its weakest pace in more than five years in the third quarter, due to public underspending, making this year's 6.5-7.5 per cent growth target hard to meet.

Officials have become more wary of accusations of recklessness, and are subjecting spending decisions to greater scrutiny after the Supreme Court in July declared parts of an economic stimulus fund illegal, putting big infrastructure projects at risk.

A 22.5 billion pesos supplementary budget was approved by the lower house of Congress on Tuesday to fund a permanent housing programme for typhoon victims and projects that lost funding because of the Supreme Court's decision.

Manila aims to increase infrastructure outlay to 4 per cent of gross domestic product next year, from a target of 3.5 per cent in 2014, to help grow the economy between 7-8 per cent in 2015.