PBBM asks Congress to act swiftly on national budget

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. urged Congress to waste no time in passing the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023, citing its importance in helping the nation attain economic transformation, growth, and sustainability.

“The formula for prosperity is simple: Increase productivity with the overriding commitment to leave no Filipino behind, including Filipinos of the next generation. Let us not waste more time in turning this dream into a reality,” he told Congress in his budget message.

House Speaker and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez said the House will begin hearings on the National Expenditure Plan on Aug. 26, and finish committee and plenary deliberation on the budget proposal by Oct. 1, when Congress goes on its first recess.

TURNOVER. Budget Secretary Amenah Pangadaman (left) submits to Speaker Martin G. Romualdez the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 during the turnover ceremony at the Social Hall of the Speaker’s Office in the House of Representatives. Ver Noveno

“We welcome the submission of the proposed 2023 national budget that will provide the broad strokes needed to speed up our economic recovery,” Romualdez said.

Mr. Marcos said the timely passage of the proposed budget will ensure that the country’s agenda for prosperity will be realized.

“This is our moment. Let the economic transformation towards inclusive and sustainable growth begin. With your approval of the proposed 2023 national budget, certainly, our agenda for prosperity can be achieved,” he added.

“The House of the people will effectively respond to the needs of the people, and we will do our best to address the continued impact of the health crisis, create more jobs and ensure food security,” the Speaker added.

Romualdez said the House 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 up to Nov. 6.

Mr. Marcos acknowledged continuing uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and unpredictable international conflicts.

He, however, said he was undaunted because of his faith in both the government’s economic managers and the Filipino people.

“I have faith in the Filipino people. I know that the strength of the Filipino is beyond resilience. We will emerge from these crises stronger and better. We will see the Philippines as the land of prosperity that it was destined to be,” the President added.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted the proposed P5.268-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2023 to Congress on Monday morning.

The education sector, which is made up of the Department of Education, State Universities and Colleges, Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, received the largest chunk as mandated by the Constitution with P852.8 billion.

It is followed by the public works sector (P718.4 billion) and the health sector, which includes the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (P296.3 billion).

In a press briefing, DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the proposed 2023 national budget is higher than this year’s P5.024 trillion budget by P244 billion or 4.9 percent. It is the highest ever spending proposal of the government.

Pangandaman 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 the first or second week of December.

From about P633.3 billion in 2022, the DepEd’s budget has been increased to P710.6 billion in 2023.

The Marcos administration also plans to spend as much as P47.5 billion for free college tuition, and another P50 billion for technical and vocational training.

This, Pangandaman said, reflects the administration’s thrust towards investing in education.

“This proves this administration’s commitment to invest in human capital development and youth empowerment,” she said.

About P1.196 trillion will also be allotted to the country’s infrastructure programs, as Marcos plans to continue the “Build, Build, Build” program of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will receive P718.4 billion, while the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will get P167.1 billion, a 120-percent increase from its P75-billion budget in 2022.

The increased amount, the DBM said, covers the augmented funding requirements for various foreign-assisted railway projects.

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 PNR South Long Haul.

In anticipation for possible health emergencies, President Marcos has also proposed to increase the health sector’s budget by 10.4 percent to P296.3 billion in 2023.

The budget aims to cover improved vaccination efforts and COVID-19 boosters.

Pangandaman said P29 billion of the budget will be used to purchase drugs, medicines, and vaccines, while more than P19 billion will be allocated for the salary and benefits of healthcare workers.

Another P23 billion will also be 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, government hospitals, and other health facilities in the country.

Agriculture spending will also be increased by nearly 40 percent in 2023.

“The Agriculture sector will receive a substantial increase of 39.2 percent year-on-year, with a total proposed budget of P184.1 billion for the strengthening of its banner food programs and irrigation services to ensure food security and agricultural productivity,” Pangandaman said.

“To achieve this, higher allocations are proposed for the National Rice Program (P30.5 billion) to help maintain the price of rice at affordable levels, and for the production of other vital agricultural commodities,” she added.

Marcos, who also serves as the Agriculture secretary, had said that the sector will be given top priority to develop it into one of the main drivers for the country’s economic growth and development.

The budget allocations of other agencies are as follows:

• Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – P197 billion

• Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) – P26.2 billion

• Department of National Defense (DND) – P240.7 billion

• National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) – P31 billion

President Marcos has also proposed to allocate P453.1 billion for “climate change expenditures.”

These expenditures will focus on food security, water sufficiency, ecosystem and environmental stability, human security, climate smart

industries and services, knowledge and capacity development and sustainable energy, the DBM said.

To monitor these expenses, the DBM said it will partner with the Climate Change Commission to develop the Climate Change Expenditure Tagging (CCET) mechanism.

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