2023 budget designed to shield PH economy from 'any shocks': DBM

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

February 8, 2023, 12:06 pm

MANILA – The PHP5.268 trillion national budget for 2023 contains allocations that will help protect the Philippine economy from the "negative" impact of internal and external shocks, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Wednesday.

The DBM issued the statement a day after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the country's headline inflation rate in January climbed to 8.7 percent from 8.1 percent in December 2022.

The budget department said this year's national budget is composed of allocations intended for the implementation of the government's social protection, economic development, and disaster preparedness programs.

"In addition to allocations meant for disaster-related and risk resiliency programs, the budget includes layers of social protection and economic emergency expenditure items that relatively shield the economy and its people from the negative effects of any shocks," it said.

"In fact, social protection programs have been designed to be efficient and targeted, preventing wastage of resources and varying according to the sources of shocks and causes of emergencies."

The DBM assured that the government's social protection programs would get "needed funds" for 2023.

It noted that more than PHP151 billion has been allocated for the continuation of the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) major social protection service programs this year.

The DSWD's major social protection services include the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP), the Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances (PSIFDC), and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Under the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the 4Ps or the government’s direct cash assistance to poor households will receive the biggest chunk of funds, which is PHP102.61 billion.

About PHP36.82 billion will go to the PSIFDC, a program that looks after the condition of Filipinos in difficult circumstances, including crisis situations.

According to the 2023 GAA, PHP6.46 billion will be allotted for the SLP to boost livelihood opportunities in the country, while PHP5.2 billion will be earmarked for the SFP to ensure regular feeding and milk distribution, the DBM said.

Despite the limited fiscal space, the government has allotted needed funding for the continuation of various social protection programs, the DBM said.

"As against economic shocks, there are likewise assistance programs and subsidies to the transport sector that benefit tricycle drivers; bus workers and the riding public under the service contracting programs for buses; emergency employment programs and emergency repatriation programs," the department said, citing the PHP1.285 billion Service Contracting program, which gives way to the Libreng Sakay.

The DBM said more than PHP20 billion has also been allotted for the implementation of the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers (TUPAD) and the Government Internship Program this year.

It also cited several programs for the prevention and control of communicable diseases; medical assistance for indigent patients; and some public health emergency benefits and allowances for health care and non-health care workers.

The government, the DBM said, is also offering social pension for indigent senior citizens, educational assistance, and other "in-kind types of subsidies," such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority's training courses and the Department of Education's alternative learning systems.

"Indeed, regular subsidies to marginalized sectors remain as a major component of the budget. These serve as (a) means to ensure continued access to markets and public services and help them uplift the quality of their lives," it said. "Allow us to note further that given our tight fiscal space, priority was likewise given to other equally important programs and projects as we move towards normalcy and the reopening of the economy. These priority programs include funding for the education and health sectors as mentioned."

On Tuesday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. expressed optimism that the drop in the prices of fuel and imported agricultural products would help tame inflation.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisaan said the Marcos administration has identified measures to keep food price movements, consistent with the government’s inflation and food security objectives, with higher agricultural productivity, food supply augmentation, and energy security seen as priorities to temper upward price pressures. (PNA)