Double-digit increases in education, infra, health, social welfare, agri in 2023 budget
There are double-digit increases in the Philippines’ allocation on education, infrastructure, health, social protection, and agriculture, based on the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
According to Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, the proposed P5.268-trillion budget is crafted to withstand future risks, challenges, and shocks, with a 4.9% increase from the previous year.
“Filipinos have bravely faced disasters and crises in recent years and notwithstanding the uncertainties, we have witnessed the strength of our economy and the resilience of our countrymen as seen by the country’s economic expansion,” she said in an emailed statement.
The education sector is set to receive P852.8 billion, marking the highest budgetary priority as mandated by the Constitution.
Majority of this will be allocated to the Department of Education (DepEd) — headed by Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio — with P710.6 billion, up 12.20% from P633.3 billion in 2022.
Aside from the DepEd, funding for the sector also covers the state universities and colleges (SUCs), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“As the President said during his first SONA (State of the Nation Address), we should not hold back on investing in education, as education is the only legacy we can leave our children that will never go to waste,” Pangandaman said.
“This proves this administration’s commitment to invest in human capital development and youth empowerment,” she added.
The proposed budget also allocates a total of P1.196 trillion for the government’s infrastructure programs for the year.
This includes P718.4 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), while the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will receive P17.1 billion or 120.4% higher than its P75.8-billion budget in 2022.
Among the major projects covered are the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR), the Metro Manila Subway Phase 1, the LRT1 Cavite Extension, and the PNR South Long Haul.
The NSCR project involves the construction of two rail segments — a 5.12-kilometer section connecting Malolos in Bulacan to Clark, and a 1.19-km extension connecting the NSCR to Blumentritt in Manila.
The P355.6-billion Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1 involves a 25-kilometer subway that will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Parañaque City.
The LRT1 Cavite Extension involves the extension of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 by 11.7 kilometers to 32.4 kilometers from 20.7 kilometers, as awarded to the Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC).
Meanwhile, the PNR South Long Haul project involves the construction of 23 stations from Banlic, Caraga to Daraga, Albay, spanning 39 cities and municipalities, four provinces, and two regions.
“President Marcos earlier said that this administration shall continue to implement infrastructure projects and refocus to 'Build, Better, More',” Pangadaman said.
Following two years of lockdowns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the DBM proposed a 10.4% budget increase for the health sector to P296.3 billion.
The amount covers the budgets of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PHIC), with P29 billion for the purchase of drugs, medicines, and vaccines, and over P19 billion for the salary and benefits of healthcare workers.
Some P23 billion was also allocated for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) to finance the acquisition of medical equipment and the construction, rehabilitation, and upgrading of health stations, health units, and health facilities.
The DBM also proposed a 39.2% increase in the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) — currently headed by Marcos — to P184.1 billion.
This covers P29.5 billion for irrigation services, in line with Marcos’ directive to prioritize the agriculture sector and transform it into a main driver of growth and employment.
“In support of the mandate of our President, and in anticipation of a global food crisis and for the long-term goal of food self-sufficiency, we increased the budget of the DA by 43.9 percent, to cover the funding requirements for its programs and projects,” said Pangandaman.
The DA in May warned of a looming food crisis, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising fuel prices, along with the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The DBM allocated P197 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as the administration seeks to continue programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, among others.
Some P18.4 billion of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) P26.2-billion budget will also be used for the Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program.
Aside from these, the administration allotted P453.1 billion for climate change expenditures, in cooperation with the Climate Change Commission.
There was also a 9% increase in the Department of National Defense (DND) budget to P240.7 billion, with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund at P31 billion.
“Government hopes to fund these and ensure their proper delivery by pursuing the path of sound fiscal management and enhanced bureaucratic efficiency,” Pangandaman said.
“I am confident that the 2023 budget will help us achieve our goals for economic transformation, growth, and sustainability,” she added.
The proposed budget was formally submitted to the House of Representatives on Monday, with deliberations targeted to be completed before October 1. —KBK, GMA News