House starts plenary debates on 2023 proposed budget bill
The House of Representatives on Tuesday began the plenary debates on the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) or House Bill (HB) No. 4488.
In a sponsorship speech, Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Elizaldy Co, chairperson of the House appropriations panel, said the national government expects revenue collections worth over P3 trillion from the P5.268 trillion proposed budget for 2023.
“In financing the budget, the National Government expects revenue collections in FY (fiscal year) 2023 to reach P3.633 trillion or 15 percent of GDP (gross domestic product),” Co said.
“This is 10 percent higher than the FY 2022 programmed revenue of P3.304 trillion which is equivalent to 15.2 percent of the GDP,” he added.
Co said the P3.633 trillion revenue will fund 69 percent of the national budget’s programmed disbursements, while the government will fund 31 percent of the expenses.
The proposed national budget has three main pillars including strengthening the purchasing power of Filipinos, recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and improving bureaucratic efficiency, he said.
Co said the timely passage of the GAB “ensures the fulfillment of the administration’s agenda for prosperity and economic transformation”.
Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, senior vice chairperson of the appropriations committee, sponsored the general principles and provisions of the GAB.
Quimbo said: “To pave our economic recovery path moving forward, the new administration crafted the medium-term fiscal framework or MTFF, which seeks to grow our economy stabilize prices, increase revenues as well as manage and pay our debt.”
“At present, our debt to GDP ratio is at 62.1 percent. We will endeavor to reduce this to 51 percent, increase revenues to P6.589 trillion, and reduce deficit to only 3 percent of GDP by 2028,” she added.
Quimbo said the 2023 budget was the “first step in fulfilling the visions of the MTFF to create more jobs and reduce poverty.”
Education was allocated with the highest budget, which was P852.8 billion and will be used to fund the safe return to face-to-face classes, the construction and rehabilitation of school facilities, and the provision of educational assistance, she said.
This was followed by health with P301 billion worth of funds for medicines, vaccines, healthcare facilities, healthcare worker benefits and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) contributions.
The combined allotment for agriculture and agrarian reform amounted to P181.1 billon, which will prioritize programs for rice, corn and fisheries for food security.
Quimbo said they will also be setting aside funds for social protection programs like the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) and infrastructure to “boost physical and digital connectivity”.
She urged her fellow lawmakers to invest in farmers, human capital, infrastructure and small and medium businesses.
“With more investments, jobs are created. With more and better jobs come prospects for growth. That is the blueprint of our economic economy,” she said.
During the hearing, 4Ps party-list Rep. Marcelino Libanan asked Quimbo if the secretaries of the departments under the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) were present.
Quimbo said that Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Economic Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla were with President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. in his state visit to the US.
Libanan started the motion to proceed with the plenary debates on the DBCC budget but he said they will wait for the four secretaries to be physically present before approving it.
Quimbo previously said the House aims to finish the plenary debates on the 2023 national budget by September 28 and have the GAB approved before Congress goes on recess in October. Jaspearl Tan/DMS