2023 ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ budget submitted to Congress

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
2023 �Agenda for Prosperity� budget submitted to Congress
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman submits to Speaker Martin Romualdez the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 yesterday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has submitted to Congress next year’s expenditure program described as “proactive and resilient” and “designed to withstand future risks, challenges and shocks.”

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman yesterday handed over documents containing the proposed P5.268-trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) of the Marcos administration to the House of Representatives led by Speaker and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.

In his message on the submission of the 2023 NEP, President Marcos said he is confident that the Philippines would overcome uncertainties spawned by the pandemic as he cited the need to boost productivity despite the challenges confronting the nation.

“Aware of all these challenges, we must transform our economy from one that is reactive, where our people suffer the effects of economic shocks, to one that is proactive, where our people are prepared and our economy is spared. We must meet our productivity goals regardless of the disasters and crises that may come our way,” the President said in his budget message.

Pangandaman said administration priorities, based on the NEP, are education, infrastructure, health, agriculture and social safety nets.

“We have identified the priority sectors in our 2023 National Expenditure Program, which stands at P5.268 trillion and 4.9 percent higher than this year’s budget,” she said during the brief turnover ceremony.

“Filipinos have bravely faced disasters and crises in recent years and notwithstanding the uncertainties, we have witnessed the strength of our economy and the resilience of our countrymen as seen by the country’s economic expansion,” she noted.

For his part, Romualdez welcomed the submission of the proposed 2023 national budget, which he believed would provide the “broad strokes needed to speed up our economic recovery” during the first year of the Marcos administration.

He said the committee on appropriations, chaired by Rep. Zaldy Co (Ako Bicol party-list), would “hit the ground running” and start budget deliberations on Aug. 26.

Committee vice chair Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo said they aim to finish committee hearings by Sept. 16, to allow two weeks of House plenary deliberations and third and final reading approval before the Oct. 1 congressional recess.

“Rest assured that Congress shall work tirelessly to approve a budget that is responsive to the needs of the people and is able to bring inclusive and sustainable growth,” Quimbo, an economist, said.

Romualdez described the proposed appropriations measure “as an exceptional fiscal program carefully formulated to provide a continuing booster shot to revitalize an economy still feeling the ill effects of the pandemic.”

“The House of the People will effectively respond to the needs of the people, and we will do our best to address the continued impact of the health crisis, create more jobs and ensure food security,” he added.

The House leader said they would “make sure that every centavo will be spent wisely to implement programs that would save lives, protect communities.” He said that in partnership with the Senate and Malacañang, the House would continue to pursue the Build Build Build program to create more jobs.

If approved by Congress, the proposed budget – P244 billion more than this year’s spending program – would be the country’s highest ever.

Earlier, the administration’s economic team pointed out that the goal of the Marcos administration is to achieve 6.5 to 8.0 percent real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth annually between 2023 and 2028 in order to attain a single-digit (9.0 percent) poverty rate by 2028.


Marcos, in his budget message, said that while the pandemic, typhoons, earthquakes and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have left the economy shuddering, he is confident of the capability of his administration’s economic team to steer the country to stability and eventually to prosperity.

“This is a turbulent time in global history with continuing uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and unpredictable international conflicts. But we need not fear. I have faith in the economic leadership that is at the helm of our ship to navigate us through these storms,” he said.

“Most of all, I have faith in the Filipino people. I know that the strength of the Filipino is beyond resilience. We will emerge from these crises stronger and better,” Marcos said.

“The formula for prosperity is simple: increase productivity with the overriding commitment to leave no Filipino behind, including Filipinos of the next generations. Let us waste no more time in turning this dream into a reality,” he added.

Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto said the 2023 budget should fix not just the usual spending delays but “procurement fiascos” as well.

“When it comes to public spending, the problem is not in budget authorization, or when Congress approves the budget, but in budget execution, when agencies spend the budget given to them,” Recto said.

“The budget is supposed to be spent for the right purpose, at the right time, by the right agency, for the right price. But COA reports on procurement fiascos and huge unobligated amounts are a continuing indictment of the failure to obligate funds promptly and properly,” he said.

“That failure betrays the public because the tax-budget dynamic is that taxes paid by the people without disputing must be spent for projects that would benefit them without delay. That is the social contract that underpins the budget,” he added.

Under the 2023 NEP, the education sector will receive the biggest allocation as mandated by the Constitution, at P852.8 billion or 8.2 percent bigger than this year’s figure.

This sector is composed of the Department of Education (DepEd), state universities and colleges, Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The budget of DepEd shall increase from P633.3 billion this year to P710.6 billion in 2023.

For infrastructure, the budget allocation stands at P1.196 trillion for next year with the Department of Public Works and Highway to get P718.4 billion and the Department of Transportation, P167.1 billion which is 120.4 percent bigger than this year’s allocation of P75.8 billion.

DOTr’s budget covers the augmented funding requirements for various foreign-assisted railway projects including the North-South Commuter Railway, the Metro Manila Subway Phase 1, the LRT-1 Cavite Extension and the PNR South Long Haul.

Budget for the health sector for next year will be 10.4 percent higher at P296.3 billion, inclusive of allocations for the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

“Around P29 billion has been allocated to purchase drugs, medicine and vaccines while more than P19 billion has been allocated for the salary and benefits of health care workers,” Pangandaman said.

Allocation for the Department of Agriculture (DA), its attached corporations and the Department of Agrarian Reform is at P184.1 billion, a 39.2 percent increase from this year’s allocation. The figure includes P29.5 billion for irrigation services.

“In support of the mandate of our President, and in anticipation of a global food crisis and for the long-term goal of food self-sufficiency, we increased the budget of the DA by 43.9 percent, to cover the funding requirements for its programs and projects,” Pangandaman added.


For next year, the budget for the Department of National Defense would be nine percent higher at P240.7 billion, of which P31 billion would be earmarked for National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund “in anticipation of destructive typhoons and other natural calamities.”

To address the needs of the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society, the Department of Social Welfare and Development would be allotted P197 billion in 2023.

The NEP for 2023 factored in continued support for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens, Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances, Sustainable Livelihood Program and the Supplementary Feeding Program.

Meanwhile, P18.4 billion of the total P26.2-billion budget for the Department of Labor and Employment will be used to implement its Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program, intended for workers displaced by the pandemic. – Alexis Romero, Delon Porcalla, Louise Maureen Simeon

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