Gov't says to prioritize health, food security under 2021 budget

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2020 03:09 PM

Jeepney driver Alberto Manuel Jr. begs along Rizal Avenue on June 22, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Health and food security are among top priorities of the government under its proposed P4.3 trillion national budget for 2021, the Department of Budget and Management said Wednesday as the country continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposed 2021 budget is higher by 5 percent compared to this year's P4.1 trillion.

"The priority of the government as far as moving forward is basically... the focus is on the health sector," Budget Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo said in a forum that serves as a primer ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's 5th State of the Nation Address.

For health spending, Toledo said the government plans to ramp up spending on medical facilities, purchasing necessary medical equipment and COVID-19 test kits, and ensuring sufficient deployment of health workers as the pandemic continues.

In terms of ensuring food supply, Toledo said the government would continue to provide equipment to farmers for modernization.

"This is to ensure the unhampered movement of agricultural goods and services through efficient transport and logistics system," he said.

Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado earlier said that government spending for next year would still be directed towards fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

As of July 14, the Philippines has confirmed 57,545 cases of COVID-19. This includes 1,603 deaths and 20,459 recoveries.