MANILA – House committee on appropriations chairperson Elizaldy Co on Tuesday vowed the timely passage of the PHP5.268-trillion national budget for 2023, as it would ensure the fulfillment of the Marcos administration's agenda for prosperity and economic transformation and address the effects brought about by the pandemic and inflation.
During the start of the plenary deliberations on the General Appropriations Bill, Co said the proposed 2023 budget is anchored on the budget theme “Agenda for Prosperity: Economic Transformation Towards Inclusivity and Sustainability”, with an overarching objective of economic transformation.
Co further noted that the spending measure has three main pillars focused on strengthening the purchasing power of Filipinos; reducing vulnerability and mitigating scarring from the Covid-19 pandemic; and enhancing bureaucratic efficiency.
"The President's budget message clearly underlines that the overall goal is to reinvigorate job creation and reduce poverty by steering the economy back to its high-growth path in the near term and sustaining its high, inclusive, and resilient growth in the long term," Co said in his sponsorship speech.
Co said the proposed budget also embodies the 8-point socioeconomic agenda of the Marcos administration comprised of: food security; improved transportation; affordable and clean energy; health care; social services; education; bureaucratic efficiency; and sound fiscal management.
"The 8-point socioeconomic agenda is an action plan for the immediate recovery of the economy from the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The near-term objective is to address rising inflation driven by internal and external factors, socioeconomic scarring, and low income," he said.
Co said the proposed 2023 budget is 22.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). This is 4.9 percent higher or PHP244.4 billion more than this year's budget of PHP5.023 trillion.
He said in financing the budget, the national government expects revenue collections in fiscal year (FY) 2023 to reach PHP3.633 trillion or 15.3 percent of GDP.
He said the expected revenue will fund about 69 percent of the PHP5.268 trillion programmed disbursements for FY 2023, obliging the national government to partly finance through borrowings about 31 percent of the expenditures.
"In view of the foregoing, I request every member of this august body to join the members of the Committee on Appropriations in coming up with a collective decision and recommendation to approve this General Appropriations Bill for FY 2023, which authorizes the appropriations of PHP4.259 trillion for the operation of the national government, consist of PHP3.671 trillion in Programmed New Appropriations and PHP588 billion in Unprogrammed Appropriations," he said.
"In solidarity and with a united front, we shall be able to deliver the necessary tools and resources with this budget to improve the lives of our constituents and uplift their hope for a better quality of life and future prosperity and advancement of the Filipino people," he added.
Marikina City Representative Stella Quimbo, for her part, said the 2023 General Appropriations Bill focuses on growing vital sectors of the economy and is the "first step in fulfilling the visions" of the current administration's Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) to create more jobs and reduce poverty.
Quimbo, vice chairperson of the House committee on appropriations, highlighted that around PHP852.8 billion is allocated for the education sector next year to fund the safe return to face-to-face classes, the construction and rehabilitation of school facilities, and the provision of educational assistance.
Another important pillar of the GAB, she said, is health spending amounting to PHP301 billion, which shall be spent on medicines and vaccines, improvement of health facilities, healthcare worker benefits, and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) indirect contributions.
Meanwhile, she said the overall allocation for agriculture and agrarian reform is PHP184.1 billion with Rice Program, National Corn Program and Fisheries Development Program as top priorities.
"These will help us achieve another MTFF goal: food security," she said.
She said around PHP512.2 billion will be spent on social protection programs that include the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which is the ultimate solution to poverty.
Lastly, 5 percent of GDP or PHP1.196 trillion shall be set aside for sustained infrastructure development that seeks to boost both physical and digital connectivity, she noted.
"While we may have different ideas on how to recover, as we debate today, we must all be guided by the convergent principles and goals. We need to invest in our farmers. We need to enhance human capital. We need to grow our MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) which are the backbone of our economy. We need to create effective networks of physical and digital infrastructure to ensure mobility and smooth flow of goods and services," she said.
She explained that creating a vibrant atmosphere for business would lead to the development of small businesses and more investments to come in.
"With more investments, jobs are created. And with more and better jobs come prospects for growth. That is the blueprint of our economic recovery," she said.
Quimbo said the House is expected to finish its plenary debates by Sept. 28, which is also the earliest date they could approve the budget measure if President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. certifies the bill as urgent.
“Ang approval na mangyayari po ay (On the approval), the earliest will happen on Sept. 28," she said during a Laging Handa briefing. (PNA)