MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is proposing a P2.006 trillion budget for fiscal year 2013, or 10.5 percent or about P190 billion higher than last year’s budget.
Social services still take up the biggest portion of the budget.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said 34.8 percent or P698.4 billion of the proposed budget has been allotted for social service delivery agencies such as the Department of Education, the DSWD and the Department of Health.
This in line with the administration’s target to reduce poverty incidence to 16.6 percent by 2016.
“Social services will continue to have the largest constantly increasing share of the budget at 34.8 percent in 2013 from 33.8 percent to further boost poverty reduction programs and investment in the capacities of our people,” Abad told reporters.
The Department of Education gets the biggest share of the proposed budget, followed by the DPWH, Department of National Defense, the DILG, Department of Agriculture, DOH, DSWD, DOTC, DOF, and DENR.
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The DepEd will receive P292.7 billion, P55.9 billion more than its 2012 budget (an increase of 22.6 percent).
Abad said this will allow the agency to hire additional teachers and build classrooms to “close the teacher and classroom gap.”
“For the first time in the history of this country, we have provided enough budget to the DepEd so that they can hire 61,000 teachers and make available about 64,000 teachers more and build additional 27,000 classrooms to finally close the teacher and classroom gap,” he said.
P44 billion will be allotted for the conditional cash transfer program to benefit an additional 800,000 poor families to increase the beneficiaries from 3 million to 3.8 million.
“The other big difference is next year the government aims to achieve rice self-sufficiency by providing the Department of Agriculture the budget it needs to be able to produce about 20 million metric tons of palay. Also, in terms of the health services, you will see also increasing investments in the government’s universal healthcare program to benefit not just the 5.2 million indigent households with full subsidy for their national health insurance program but we’ve also doubled the subsidy and, if we passed the indexation of sin taxes law which will bring in at its present formulation about 33-billion pesos, then we will be able to cover also an additional 5.5 million of the informal sector families which will also be unprecedented,” he said.
The administration is also sustaining its policy against lump sum funds.
“We sustain our policy against lump sum funds. So this year, we did not accept any budget from any agency which were lump sums. So they have to be disaggregated in terms of specific locations, specific projects, and specific budgets,” he said.
Abad said the defense department has been getting bigger budget allocations than previous years. Additional budget would be given once Congress approves the AFP modernization act.
“The defense department has been getting allocations that they’ve never had before. And, in fact, as soon as Congress approves the AFP Modernization Act which will set aside about P78 billion for a five-year modernization program, then every year the DND will be getting at least P15 billion to modernize its operations,” he said.
The Philippine Coast Guard and the BFAR, Abad said, have received budget allocations to strengthen its capacity to monitor the West Philippine Sea.
“We’ve also strengthened the capability of the Philippine Coast Guard. In fact, just this year the President authorized the allocation of additional P1.6 billion for the budget of the Philippine Coast Guard for its West Philippine operations. At the same time, we’ve also strengthened the Bureau of Aquatic and Fisheries Resources because, if you note, there is always a BFAR boat that’s protecting our fishermen and so we’re also strengthening the capacity of BFAR to monitor our coasts especially in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
The Palace is submitting to Congress the 2013 National Expenditure Program a day after President Aquino delivers his State of the Nation Address.
Abad is hoping that Congress will pass the budget before Christmas.