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DBM submits proposed P4.5-T national budget for 2021 to House of Representatives

The Department of Budget and Management on Tuesday formally submitted to the House of Representatives the 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP), proposing a national budget of P4.506 trillion for next year.

The formal submission of the 2021 NEP was led by Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

According to Avisado, the proposed 2021 national budget is 9.9% higher than this year's appropriation of P4.1 trillion.

"The FY 2021 NEP will sustain government efforts and effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on government spending on improving our healthcare systems, ensuring food security, creating more jobs by investing on labor intensive projects, enabling a digital government and economy as well as helping communities cope in these trying times," Avisado said in his speech during the ceremony.

"Hence, the theme of the FY 2021 NEP is 'Reset, Rebound, and Recover: Investing for Resiliency and Sustainability,'" he added.

Among the departments, the education sector composed of the Department of Education, State Universities and Colleges, the Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will receive the biggest chunk of the budget, with a total of P754.4 billion.

The Department of Public Works and Highways follows with P667.3 billion, the Department of the Interior and Local Government with P246.1 billion, the Department of National Defense with P209.1 billion, and the Department of Health with P203.1 billion.

Completing the top 10 agencies with the highest budget allocation are the Department of Social Welfare and Development with P171.2 billion, the Department of Transportation with P143.6 billion, the Department of Agriculture with P66.4 billion, the Judiciary with P43.5 billion, and the Department of Labor and Employment with P27.5 billion.

"The imposition of community quarantine has had a significant impact in the economic and social activities in our country while our healthcare sector continues to struggle against the pressure of the pandemic," Avisado said.

"We, in government, must be able to effectively respond and with the fiscal year 2021 NEP, we hope to fully address the impact of the health crisis and accelerate our economic recovery," he added.

For his part, House Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap assured the public that the House will carefully scrutinize the proposed 2021 national budget according to the direction that President Rodrigo Duterte wants to take.

"Ang pangako namin dito sa Kongreso ay mapupunta ito sa bawat ahensya na nangangailangan nito at masigurado rin na ang taumbayan ang makikinabang at walang ni isang Pilipinong maiiwan," he said.

"We intend to sustain our economic growth and build on our previous gains while facing the pandemic head on. Ang araw na ito ay simbolo ng ating pag-buckle down to work bilang public servant," he added.

'In record time'

Meanwhile, Cayetano said the House is aiming to approve the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act "in record time."

"We will try to finish the budget before the end of September, very ambitious schedule, to send it right away to the Senate because we hope for the first time in history, we can sign the budget maybe late November or mid-November as a sign of unity by our country," he said.

The Speaker likewise vowed to give equal time for all members of the House, including those in the opposition, to scrutinize the proposed budget.

"We will be very transparent, and the members of the opposition in this house, we will give you first a copy of the budget and listen to you first and given more time sa budget deliberations para itong budget will be a product of the whole of Congress, hindi lang ng administrasyon," he said.


Cayetano, meanwhile, issued a warning to government agencies that are not responsive to the needs of the public, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If we find out that you’re offline, if we find out na hindi kayo maabot nung constituents, delayed sa inyo, nag-online nga kayo, hindi naman makarating, nagla-lockdown kayo nang napakatagal, na-delayed yung inyong mga ano, don’t expect a smooth budget hearing or a good budget next year," he said.

On the other hand, those who have frontliners, even if there are imperfections in their operations, should expect good treatment from Congress, Cayetano said.

"For everyone else, especially those na may frontliners, may pintas man, for example, DSWD, we super appreciate your efforts and please tell us, alam naming kulang kayo ng tao, just like DOH, just like ‘yung mga front liners po natin, Congress will be there for you," he said. — RSJ/BM, GMA News