(File photo)

MANILA – The bulk of the proposed PHP5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 will go to the social services sector, getting an allocation of around PHP2.071 trillion, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said Wednesday.

During the Senate hearing on the proposed 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman discussed the sectoral allocation included in the first full-year budget of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s administration for next year.

Pangandaman, presenting the sectoral breakdown, said the social services sector would get PHP2.071 trillion or 39.3 percent of the proposed 2023 national budget.

The social services sector, she said, covers education and health.

Coming second in the top priority sectors was the economic services sector which would receive PHP1.528 trillion or 29 percent of the proposed national budget.

Most of the funds will be used to support the implementation of “Build Better More” Program, Pangandaman said.

“This is consistent with the President’s goal to reduce poverty, usher in economic transformation, and accelerate economic recovery,” she said.

Pangandaman said around PHP807.2 billion or 15.3 percent of the budget would be given to the general public services sector.

Around PHP611.0 billion (11.6 percent) would go to the debt burden for net lending assistance to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and interest payments, while the remaining PHP250.7 billion (4.8 percent) will be distributed to the defense sector.

Pangandaman said the proposed budget by expense classification, by recipient units, and by regions.

“We are one with the President in moving the country forward through united efforts for economic transformation,” she said.

Bangko Sentral Monetary Board member Bruce Tolentino presented the macroeconomic outlook for the rest of the year and for the medium-term, while Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan provided an overview of the country’s socioeconomic performance and the prospects for further growth and development.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno also gave an update on the current state of the Philippine economy; the fiscal performance and borrowing efforts; the overview of the medium-term fiscal plan; and the legislative priorities of the Department of Finance.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda said she appreciated that the national budget was anchored for the first time on the medium-term fiscal framework (MTFF).
 
"I am one with our economic managers in seeking to achieve the goals of 6.5 to 8 percent real GDP (gross domestic product) growth annually between 2023 and 2028, 9 percent or single-digit poverty rate by 2028. I hope we can bring it sooner and lower; pagtulungan po natin (we can work together) – 3 percent national government (NG) deficit to GDP rate by 2028, less than 60 percent NG debt-to-GDP ratio by 2025, and the ultimate attainment of upper middle-income status for Filipinos as presented by our economic team led by Secretary Diokno," she said.
 
Legarda, who had previously chaired the Senate Committee on Finance, believes the proposed budget was structured toward the attainment of the goals that the national government and its economic managers have set.
 
"I believe it is important for us to support these efforts towards economic transformation, inclusivity and sustainability. Therefore, I will not ask any question, Mr. Chair, I have no objections to the 2023 National Expenditure Program in so far as the macro-economic assumptions are concerned, but of course, I will be present in every and each agency’s hearing and posit questions to help the chair," she added.
 
The Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Senator Juan Edgardo Angara earlier expressed intent to finish the budget deliberations by early to mid-October to ensure the timely approval of the Senate’s version of the 2023 General Appropriations Bill. (with reports from Wilnard Bacelonia/PNA)