The Department of Budget and Management on Monday submitted to the House of Representatives the 2022 National Expenditure Program, which proposes a P5.024-trillion national budget for the next fiscal year.
The budget, with the theme "Sustaining the Legacy of Real Change for Future Generations," is now up for Congress' scrutiny and approval. It is guided by three main pillars such as Building Resilience amidst the Pandemic; Sustaining the Momentum towards Recovery; and Continuing the Legacy of Infrastructure Development.
In his budget message, President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to enable government "to safeguard our people from future impacts of the pandemic, and to assure them that we will sustain the legacy of real change for future generations."
He stressed that the budget would continue to fund the procurement and distribution of vaccines to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and at the appropriate time, provide booster shots for the people to strengthen the immune system.
"For even as we continue to address the continuing challenges of the pandemic, especially with the emergence of new and more vicious variants of the virus, we will pave the way to gain back the health and strength of our people, and the vigor of our economy," Duterte said.
"The P5.024 trillion budget will energize our economy, enabling us to regain consumer and business confidence as we pursue a real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth target of 7.0 to 9.0% for 2022," he added.
The education sector, which is composed of the Department of Education, State Universities and Colleges, and the Commission on Higher Education, is being proposed to receive the biggest chunk of the budget, with a total of P773.6 billion.
Next in line is the Department of Public Works and Highways with P686.1 billion, followed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government with P250.4 billion.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation only comes fourth, with P242.0 billion.
Other agencies that are proposed to have huge budget allocations include the Department of National Defense (P222.0 billion), Department of Social Welfare and Development (P191.4 billion), Department of Transportation (P151.3 billion), the Department of Agriculture and National Irrigation Administration (P103.5 billion),the Judiciary with P45.0, and the Department of Labor and Employment (P44.9 billion)
By expense class, bulk of the budget, with the amount of P1.456 trillion or 29.0% of the 2022 NEP, will be allocated to the Personnel Services for the hiring of healthcare workers and teaching personnel as well as the enforcement of third tranche of the Salary Standardization Law V, and the requirements of the 2018 Military and Uniformed Personnel pension arrears, among others.
When it comes to the sector, the Social Services Sector will receive the biggest chunk, with P1.922 trillion, which is higher by 15.2% compared to this year's national budget.
This will be utilized to fund health-related services such as the continued enforcement of the Universal Health Care Act, procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, personal protective equipment, and others.
Earlier, the DBM said the proposed national budget for 2022 is higher by 11.5% than the P4.5-trillion fiscal program for 2021. It is also equivalent to 22.8% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
According to the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the proposed budget will continue "to invest in building the country’s resilience amidst the pandemic by prioritizing funding for COVID-19 response measures, such as healthcare development and social services."
House appropriations panel chairman Representative Eric Yap said the start of the budget deliberations is scheduled on August 26.
"Ang target namin talaga, matapos siya ng September 30, second and final reading na po. Kasi October 1, naka-session break na po kami and then November first week na ang balik ng session," Yap said in a virtual interview with reporters.
(Our target is to end deliberations on September 30, second and final reading. We will be on break on October 1 and be back first week of November.)
"So dapat one week before the start of November session, dapat nabigyan na namin ng copy ng GAB ang Senate para makapag-start na sila mag-review bago pa man mag-session," he added.
(So a week before the start of the November session, the Senate should be given a copy of the GAB so they can start their review prior to the resumption of the session.)
Yap bared that they would have a meeting with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Thursday to justify the need for the budget to be certified as urgent. — RSJ, GMA News