Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman (PNA photo)

MANILA – The proposed PHP5.268 trillion national budget for 2023 will serve as a “springboard for the economy’s full-speed recovery,” the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said Friday.

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the 2023 budget spending plan was crafted based on and in support of the Marcos administration’s eight-point socioeconomic agenda.

“The administration’s first full-year budget shall serve as a springboard for the economy’s full-speed recovery and meaningful structural reform,” Pangandaman said, as the House of Representatives began its deliberations on the proposed 2023 budget.

The proposed budget is anchored on the theme, “Agenda for Prosperity: Economic Transformation Towards Inclusivity and Sustainability.”

The 2023 budget plan, Pangandaman said, would address the immediate and pressing concerns of Filipinos in the near- and medium-term.

Filipinos’ purchasing power

The proposed budget’s first pillar intends to strengthen the Filipinos’ purchasing power by covering the first three items in the eight-point socioeconomic agenda, which include food security, improved transportation, and affordable and clean energy, the DBM said.

The DBM noted that the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s banner programs, including the PHP30.55-billion National Rice Program, would receive a larger share in 2023 to ensure food security in the country.

Around PHP1.20 trillion will also be earmarked for the “Build Better More Program” to sustain the administration’s continued push for infrastructure development, the DBM added, noting that it is equivalent to 5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for road, rail, transport, and flood control infrastructures.

The DBM said bulk of the infrastructure budget would go to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Around PHP272.87 billion will be used to finance the DPWH’s “efficient” transport and logistics system for goods and services, while some PHP167.12 billion will be allocated for the DOTr’s establishment of an “efficient and reliable” mass public transportation system.

The DBM also noted that the Department of Energy would receive PHP476 million to realize the government’s bid for “affordable and clean” energy.

Of the PHP476 million, around PHP145.21 million will be earmarked for the DOE’s Renewable Energy Development Program, PHP252.35 million for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program, and PHP78.86 million for the Alternative Fuels and Technologies Program.

The budget for the DOE’s programs will complement the continuation of the National Electrification Administration’s (NEA) PHP1.63-billion Sitio Electrification Project, the DBM added.

“Finally, amid the expected continuing elevated cost of fuel, the budget for the DA’s Fuel Assistance for Farmers and Fisherfolk will be doubled at PHP1 billion. Of this amount, PHP510.45 million will be for corn farmers, while the remaining PHP489.55 million will be for the fisherfolk,” the agency said.

Around PHP2.5 billion will also be allocated for the DOTr’s Fuel Subsidy Program for the transport sector affected by the rising fuel prices.

Strengthening social, healthcare services

Pangandaman said the second budget pillar seeks to protect the Filipinos from the persisting effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and future unprecedented catastrophes by strengthening social and healthcare service and ensuring the safe resumption of face-to-face classes.

“The government will be providing around PHP206.50 billion of ayuda (assistance) composed of the cash transfers and other subsidy programs by various agencies,” Pangandaman said.

The DBM said the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will receive a higher allocation of PHP115.61 billion for education and health grants, as well as rice subsidy to 4.4 million households.

“This is 7.3 percent higher compared to this year’s PHP107.67 billion, which will be used to support the improvement of data validation for the Listahanan 3 and thus ensure a better beneficiary targeting system,” it said.

The DBM ensured that the education sector would still get the highest allocation amounting to PHP852.8 billion.

The budget, it said, covers the Department of Education (DepEd), state universities and colleges (SUCs), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

To strengthen the healthcare system, the Department of Health (DOH) will be given a total of PHP23 billion for its Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP).

The DOH’s HFEP aims to provide access to healthcare services through the construction, rehabilitation, and upgrading of health facilities and the purchase of medical equipment, among its other programs.

Digital transformation

The budget plan for 2023 would also enable the Marcos administration to pursue investments in information and communications technology (ICT) to transform and digitalize government processes, records, and databases through e-governance, Pangandaman said.

“In support of the Administration’s thrust for a lean, efficient, and responsive government workforce, the budget will facilitate the transformation and digitalization of the government to streamline the bureaucracy,” she said.

The DBM said around PHP12.47 billion of the proposed budget will be used for ICT and digitalization programs and projects of the government.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the DBM said, will receive PHP4.72 billion for its ICT Systems and Infrastructure Development, Management, and Advisory Program.

“Lastly, to enable accurate and timely provision of social services, the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) will receive an allocation of PHP2.06 billion,” it said.

LGUs’ support fund

Under the proposed 2023 budget, the local government units (LGUs) would also receive funding for the full devolution which allow them to directly implement programs and interventions within their respective jurisdictions.

Around PHP28.88 billion will be used for the Local Government Support Fund (LGSF), the DBM said, noting that the proposed budget is PHP10.91 billion higher than the PHP17.97 billion appropriated in 2022.

The LGSF is on top of the PHP820.27 billion National Tax Allotment that LGUs will receive in 2023, following the Mandanas-Garcia Supreme Court Ruling, the DBM noted.

“The blueprint of government spending for next year lays the foundation for the concretization of the 8-point socioeconomic agenda. Together with our partners in Congress, we hope to usher in prosperity through economic transformation towards inclusivity and sustainability,” Pangandaman said.

The House of Representatives is targeting to finish committee and plenary deliberations on the budget proposal before Oct. 1, when Congress is scheduled to go on its first recess that will last until Nov. 6. (PNA)