House receives proposed P4Tr 2021 budget

THE House of Representatives on Tuesday received for its scruitiny and approval President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s proposed P4.506 trillion 2021 national budget to reset and rebound the economy from the devastation of the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

During Tuesday’s ceremonial submission at the Plenary Hall, Budget Sec. Wendel Avisado submitted the 2021 general appropriations bill (GAB) to Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga, Jr., Deputy Majority Leader and Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, House committee on appropriations and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap, Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay and other House leaders.

Cayetano assured the national budget will not go to corruption.

“Gusto ko lang pong ulit-ulitin ang pakiusap ng ating Pangulo—wala pong korupsyon, wala pong inefficiency,” said Cayetano.

“Asahan niyo pong bubusisiin namin ng maayos ang budget ng Pilipinas, alinsunod sa direksyon ng Pamahalaan na maramdaman ito ng bawat Pilipino,” said Yap for his part.

“Ang pangako namin dito sa Congress ay mapupunta ito sa bawat ahensya na nanganagilangan nito, at masisigurado rin na ang taumbayan ang makikinabang at walang maiiwan. Layon nating maisaayos agad ang pagpasa ng budget at tiyakin na hindi lamang sa panahon ng pandemya mararamdaman ang tulong kundi sa pang araw-araw na buhay rin ng bawat Pilipino. We intend to sustain our economic growth and build on our previous gains while facing the pandemic head-on,” said Yap.

“Ang araw na ito ay simbolo ng ating pag ‘buckle down to work’ bilang public servants. Hinding-hindi tayo titigil hangga’t marami pang hindi naaabutan ng tulong. We will put our sleeves up and work tirelessly - yan ang ating pangako. Sa ngayon, stay safe at stay heathy sa inyong lahat. Maraming salamat po,” Tap added.

The 2021 national budget is higher than this year’s budget by 9.9 percent and equivalent to 21.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The theme of the proposed budget is “Reset, Rebound, and Recover: Investing for Resiliency and Sustainability” .

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said every peso of the P4.506 trillion national expenditures program (NEP) went through numerous budget hearings and consultations with the agencies.

Personnel Services will corner the bulk of the 2021 NEP at 29.2 percent, reaching P1.32 trillion.

This level considers the huge additional hiring of health workers under the Human Resource for Health Program of the Department of Health (DOH), the second tranche implementation of the Salary Standardization Law of 2019, and the increased pension requirements of military and uniformed personnel.

Capital Outlays will come in second with P920.5 billion, accounting for 20.4 percent of the proposed budget and growing by 12.9 percent.

The increase in capital outlays from this year’s budget is owed mainly to the increase in infrastructure programs of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) by 14.7 percent and Department of Transportation (DOTr) by 42.6 percent).

Meanwhile, maintenance, operating and and other expenditures will amount to P699.4 billion, debt burden with P560.2 billion, support to government-owned and - controlled corporations with P157.5 billion, and tax expenditures with P14.5 billion.

The2021 NEP remains anchored on the administrations key priorities to help the country recover quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hence, the bulk of next year’s proposed budget will be provided to the social services sector amounting to P1.664 trillion, equivalent to 36.9 percent.

This includes funding support for programs related to health, social protection, and education.

The economic services sector will receive the second highest allocation with P1.347 trillion or 29.9 percent of the proposed budget.

Meanwhile, the General Public Services sector will be allocated with P724.2 billion,

Debt Burden with P560.2 billion, and Defense with P210.6 billion.

Top Ten Departments

The Department of Education (DepEd), including State Universities and Colleges, the Commission on Higher Education, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, remains the top agency with the biggest slice from the proposed budget, with an allocation of P754.4 billion. This will support the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (P47.1 billion) and the development, reproduction and delivery of learning resources for the implementation of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan Program or BELCP (P16.1 billion), among many others.

This is followed by DPWH with a proposed budget of P667.3 billion, the Department of Interior and Local Government with P246.1 billion, the Department of National Defense with P209.1 billion, the DOH with P203.1 billion, the Department of Social Welfare and Development with P171.2 billion, the DOTr 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.

Summing up to P2.564 trillion, the budget of these top ten departments accounts for 56.9 percent of the proposed budget, and 86.9 percent of the total proposed budget for National Government Agencies.

The 2021 NEP will prioritize health-related COVID-19 response programs to address the continuing threat of the pandemic.

Hence, budgetary support will be provided for the National Health Insurance Program (P71.4 billion), Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients (P17.3 billion), and Human Resources for Health Program (P16.6 billion), among others. Around P6.1 billion is allocated for the upgrading of equipment, laboratories and isolation facilities in the different regions, and some P2.7 billion is set aside for the provision of personal protective equipment to DoH hospitals, laboratories, and centers. Meanwhile, an initial P2.5 billion and P283.5 million will be provided for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine and the establishment of a Virology Center, respectively.

The DoH will also be supported with P1.03 billion for the purchase of about 861,720 GeneXpert cartridges to be used in GeneXpert machines for COVID-19 testing.

To improve health data systems, P51.56 million will be allotted under the DoH for disease surveillance and monitoring of COVID-19 and other similar respiratory infections.

The national government will also continue to advance the Build, Build, Build Program.

A total of P1.107 trillion for Public Infrastructure Program (5.4 percent of GDP) is embedded in the proposed budget for strategic infrastructure development and to create jobs and catalyze business activities all over the country.

For the DPWH, the 2021 NEP will support its Network Development Program (P157.5 billion), Flood Management Program (P125.9 billion), Asset Preservation Program (P59.0 billion), and Bridge Program (P44.4 billion), among others. For the DOTr, meanwhile, the Rail Transport Program (P106.3 billion), Land Public Transportation Program (P16.2 billion), and Maritime Infrastructure Program (P166.4 million) will also remain to be funded.

Some P21.4 billion will likewise be allocated for Information and Communications Technology expenditures to improve the country’s wi-fi and broadband infrastructures and develop e-platform and online systems to support the e-governance initiatives of different departments.

The 2021 NEP will also prioritize government programs that help improve the productivity of the agriculture and fishery sector such as the irrigation services activities of the National Irrigation Authority (P31.5 billion), the National Rice Program  (P15.7 billion) and the Rice Competitive Enhancement Program (P10.0 billion) pursuant to Republic Act No. 11203. The proposed budget will also support the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Program (P2.3 billion) for the recovery of MSMEs.

Moreover, promoting digital upskilling, training and retooling of workers through the Training for Work Scholarship Program (P3.6 billion) and the Tulong Trabaho Scholarship Program (P1.0 billion) will also be prioritized.

The government will continue to aid vulnerable groups by funding programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (P113.8 billion), Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens (P23.2 billion), Sustainable Livelihood Program (P4.3 billion) and the Supplementary Feeding Program (P3.7 billion), among many others.

The priorities for the education sector have been reshaped to respond to specific demands and challenges that require the adoption of flexible and blended learning.

This will be achieved through a two-pronged strategy by expanding and institutionalizing flexible and multi-modal learning and teaching options (P15.2 billion) and by funding the expansion of DepEd's Computerization Program (P9.0 billion).

The 2021 national budget is thus based on the sound fiscal policy of spending within means, on the right priorities, and with measurable results under a regime of transparent, accountable and participatory governance.