MANILA, Philippines - The proposed P2.6 trillion national budget for 2013 will remove the roadblocks that hamper the country's economic growth, a senator allied with the Aquino administration said on Monday.
After a Senate finance committee briefing on the budget, Sen. Franklin Drilon cited five areas that the country needs to focus on to achieve high growth in the next few years based on an assessment by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan: infrastructure, human capital development, transparency in governance, agriculture productivity, and the manufacturing sector.
To boost infrastructure development, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is expected to bid out projects by yearend.
"All infrastructure projects should be bidded out by December this year so that come January 1 immediately awards would be made on the basis of the approved General Appropriations Act," Drilon said. "In this manner we would be able to commence these projects during the summer months."
The DPWH has a proposed budget of P152.9 billion for 2013.
Aside from poor infrastructure, Balisacan said the country has also failed to nurture its human capital, particularly in terms of providing good education and health services to the poor.
Because of this, a big part of the budget will go social services, as in prevous years.
The Department of Education has an allocation of P292.7 billion, the highest allocation in the entire government. The Department of Health has P56.8 billion, and Department of Social Welfare and Development P56.2 billion.
"We have a very talented people. Unfortunately, because of inadequacies in investment in our people, we have lagged behind in terms of our educational attainment and preparing our youth for the future," Drilon said.
The Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, has the 5th highest budget in the government with P74.1 billion. This is to increase agricultural productivity by building more farm-to-market roads and irrigation and post-harvest facilities.
In the long run, this would lower the cost of food, Drilon said.
Drilon said that with next year's budget, the manufacturing industry will get a boost through the public-private partnership program.
He added that the government will continue to fight corruption.
"The policy of this government is to emphasize transparency, strengthen its anti-corruption drive, and continuously address the bureaucratic red tape that makes it harder for private business to secure licenses, et cetera," Drilon said.
During the hearing, senators congratulated the Aquino administration's economic managers for the country's 6.4 percent GDP growth in the first quarter.
They said, however, that the government has to do more to sustain that growth rate and hit 7 percent in the coming years.