MANILA – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Monday submitted to Congress the proposed PHP5.268-trillion national budget for 2023.
Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan, House Committee on Appropriations chairperson and Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Zaldy Co received the National Expenditure Program (NEP), which is the first full one-year outlay of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., from Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman at the social hall of the Speaker’s Office.
Romualdez welcomed the submission of the proposed 2023 budget, which he said would help accelerate the country's economic recovery.
He said the House is targeting to finish committee and plenary deliberations on the budget proposal before October 1, when Congress is scheduled to go on its first recess that will last up to Nov. 6.
"The House of the People will effectively respond to the needs of the people especially in addressing the continued impact of the health crisis, and to create more jobs, and to ensure food security," Romualdez said in his speech.
"Every centavo of the national budget will be spent wisely to implement the programs that would save lives, protect communities, and make our economy strong and more agile," he added.
He also noted that the proposed budget would be used to finance the government's infrastructure projects through the Build Back More program.
The chamber, he said, will perform its constitutional mandate to scrutinize next year's national budget and ensure its passage in a transparent and timely manner.
"As representatives of the people, we will go through this budget thoroughly judiciously but with dispatch. And I have committed to the Executive its swift passage for its signing into law before the end of the year," he added.
Pangandaman, for her part, said the DBM will coordinate closely with the House appropriations committee during the hearings and deliberations to ensure a transparent process of the passage of the General Appropriations Bill.
She said the DBM is expecting the spending bill to be forwarded to Malacañang for signing by first or second week of December.
The proposed budget for next year is more than PHP244 billion, or almost 5 percent more, than this year’s PHP5.024-trillion outlay. It is the highest ever spending proposal of the government.
The House appropriations committee will begin hearings on the NEP on Aug. 26 with a briefing by the Marcos administration’s economic managers on the macro-economic parameters used in putting the spending proposal together.
Quimbo, senior vice chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations, said the committee aims to finish its hearings by Sept. 16, to give the House two weeks for plenary deliberations and third and final reading approval before the Oct. 1 recess.
She said the committee chaired by Co is committed to the swift approval of the proposed “economic recovery budget.”
“Rest assured that Congress shall work tirelessly to approve a budget that is responsive to the needs of the people and is able to bring inclusive and sustainable growth,” Quimbo said.
Proactive and resilient
Pangandaman said the “proactive and resilient” 2023 national budget will be felt by the people with education, infrastructure, health, agriculture and social safety nets as priorities.
“Our budget for FY 2023 is proactive and resilient. It is designed to withstand future risks, challenges and shocks. Filipinos have bravely faced disasters and crises in recent years and notwithstanding the uncertainties, we have witnessed the strength of our economy and the resilience of our countrymen as seen by the country’s economic expansion,” she said.
The administration’s economic team earlier pointed out that the goal of the Marcos administration is to achieve 6.5 to 8.0 percent real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth annually between 2023 to 2028 in order to attain a single-digit (9.0 percent) poverty rate by 2028.
Consistent with the 8-Point Socio-Economic Agenda of the Marcos administration, Pangandaman underscored the need to support the identified priority sectors, and to sustain the country’s growth momentum to make the economy inclusive and robust in 2023.
“We have identified the priority sectors in our 2023 National Expenditure Program, which stands at PHP5.268-Trillion and 4.9 percent higher than this year’s budget. These priority sectors include education, infrastructure development, health, agriculture and social safety nets,” she said.
The education sector, which is composed of the Department of Education (DepEd), State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will receive an 8.2 percent increase next year at PHP852.8 billion and will remain as being the highest budgetary priority as mandated by the Constitution.
The budget of DepEd shall increase from PHP633.3 billion in 2022 to PHP710.6 billion in 2023.
“As the President said during his first SONA, we should not hold back on investing in education, as education is the only legacy we can leave our children that will never go to waste. This proves this administration’s commitment to invest in human capital development and youth empowerment,” Pangandaman said.
A total of PHP1.196 trillion has been allocated for the government’s 2023 infrastructure programs.
The Department of Public Works and Highways will receive a PHP718.4 billion budget in 2023, while the Department of Transportation will receive PHP167.1 billion in 2023-- an increase by 120.4 percent from its PHP75.8 billion budget in 2022, which covers the augmented funding requirements for various foreign-assisted railway projects.
“President Marcos earlier said that this administration shall continue to implement infrastructure projects and refocus to Build, Better, More. These projects-- subway, regional airports, railways and farm-to-market roads-- will surely benefit the Filipino people,” Pangandaman said.
Major transportation infrastructure projects that will be implemented include the North-South Commuter Railway, the Metro Manila Subway Phase 1, the LRT-1 Cavite Extension, and the Philippine National Railway (PNR) South Long Haul.
In a bid to ramp up vaccination efforts and the uptake of boosters for our vulnerable population while strengthening the country’s health system through improvement of health facilities and services, the government’s health sector shall receive a 10.4 percent budget increase at PHP296.3-Billion in 2023, inclusive of the budgets of the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
“Around PHP29 billion has been allocated to purchase drugs, medicine and vaccines while more than PHP19 billion has been allocated for the salary and benefits of healthcare workers,” Pangandaman said.
A total of PHP23 billion, meanwhile, has been allotted for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), which will fund the purchase of medical equipment as well as the construction, rehabilitation and upgrading of barangay health stations, rural health units, polyclinics, local government unit (LGU) hospitals, Department of Health (DOH) hospital, and other various health facilities nationwide.
To improve the performance of the agriculture sector, the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA), its attached corporations, and the Department of Agrarian Reform will be PHP184.1 billion, a 39.2 percent increase from its 2022 allocation. The figure includes PHP29.5 billion for irrigation services.
This is in line with the President’s directive that top priority must be given to the agriculture sector so as to invigorate and transform this sector from being an economic laggard to one of the main drivers for growth and employment.
“In support of the mandate of our President, and in anticipation of a global food crisis and for the long-term goal of food self-sufficiency, we increased the budget of the DA by 43.9 percent, to cover the funding requirements for its programs and projects,” Pangandaman said.
Social Safety Nets
To address the needs of the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) shall be allocated with PHP197 billion budget in 2023. The government shall likewise continue to fully support the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens, Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances, Sustainable Livelihood Program, and the Supplementary Feeding Program.
“Our budget provides for the implementation of the projects and programs of the DSWD. The President said it himself—we must not neglect the poorest of the poor,” Pangandaman said.
Meanwhile, PHP18.4 billion of the total PHP26.2 billion budget for the Department of Labor and Employment will be used to implement its Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program, to help beneficiaries recover from the economic displacement caused by the pandemic. This includes the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program, among others.
Green governance is central to sustainable development. The Marcos Administration has allocated PHP453.1 billion for climate change expenditures, where the DBM, in collaboration with the Climate Change Commission, developed a mechanism, the Climate Change Expenditure Tagging (CCET), to track and report climate change expenditures focused on food security, water sufficiency, ecosystem and environmental stability, human security, climate smart industries and services, knowledge and capacity development and sustainable energy.
In anticipation of destructive typhoons and other natural calamities, the budget of the Department of National Defense has been increased by 9 percent in 2023 at PHP240.7 billion. Meanwhile, PHP31 billion was allocated for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.
“Government hopes to fund these and ensure their proper delivery by pursuing the path of sound fiscal management and enhanced bureaucratic efficiency. I am confident that the 2023 budget will help us achieve our goals for economic transformation, growth, and sustainability,” Pangandaman said. (with reports from Azer N. Parrocha/PNA)