MANILA – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Wednesday transmitted to the House of Representatives the proposed PHP5.768-trillion 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP), just nine days after President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman personally submitted the 2024 NEP to Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez next year’s proposed national budget for the House’s “scrutiny, deliberation and approval.”
The 2024 NEP, equivalent to 21.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP,) is 9.5 percent higher compared to the PHP5.268 trillion 2023 budget.
Anchored on the theme, “Agenda for Prosperity: Securing a Future-Proof and Sustainable Economy,” Pangandaman said the proposed national budget is framed based on the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda and will continue to support the goals of the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 of securing a future proof and sustainable vibrant economy.
Along with the agenda for prosperity, the proposed budget aims to expedite the recovery of the nation in a post-pandemic era, and transition the country towards a promising future of an inclusive and sustainable economy wherein “no Filipino is left behind.”
The Social Services sector –composed of health, education, culture and manpower development, as well as social security, welfare and employment among other social services– will receive the largest allocation of PHP2.183 trillion, or 37.9 percent of the total proposed national budget.
This represents an increase of PHP178.7 billion, or 8.9 percent, over the 2023 budget.
The Economic Services sector –which covers communications, roads and other transport; agriculture and agrarian reform, as well as trade and industry– will account for PHP1.709 trillion or 29.6 percent of the total proposed budget.
Meanwhile, General Public Services will receive PHP893.3 billion; Debt Burden at 699.2 billion; and Defense at 282.7 billion.
In the quest for food security and proper nutrition for Filipino families, Pangandaman said the 2024 NEP will continue to support programs that boost the local production of major agricultural commodities including rice with PHP30.87 billion, corn with PHP5.28 billion, and high-value crops with PHP1.94 billion allocation.
To further enhance productivity and ensure the sustainable use and management of soil resources, some PHP916 million will be provided for the National Soil Health Program.
Higher investments will also be provided for agricultural support services such as irrigation with PHP31.18 billion, the construction and rehabilitation of fish ports across the country with PHP4.94 billion, and PHP17.27 billion for the construction of 1,144.58 kilometers of farm-to-market roads in key production areas.
Transport and logistics costs
As highlighted by President Marcos during his SONA, infrastructure development is one of the key drivers of the country’s continuing economic growth.
Pangandaman said the 2024 NEP aims to sustain this momentum through the Build Better More Program with PHP1.42 trillion, which is equivalent to 5.3 percent of GDP.
“This will prioritize physical connectivity infrastructure such as road networks and railway systems, which will cover almost half or 43.5 percent of the budget,” she said.
Specifically, this will support major transport programs such as the North-South Commuter Railway System and the Metro Manila Subway Project Phase I.
Significant budgetary support will also be provided for social infrastructure development which includes school buildings with PHP40.59 billion; hospitals and health centers with PHP15.31 billion; as well as water and power supply systems with a combined allocation of PHP9.01 billion.
Alongside power generation, the Marcos administration will also relentlessly pursue total electrification through the National Electrification Administration’s (NEA) National Rural Electrification Program with a PHP2.3-billion allocation.
Education and skills development
Alongside the strengthening of the economy, the administration will also invest heavily in human capital development through education, health and social protection, Pangandaman said.
The Department of Education (DepEd) will get PHP758.6 billion; Commission on Higher Education (CHED) with PHP31 billion; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) with PHP15.2 billion; and 116 state universities and colleges (SUCs) with PHP105.6 billion.
The education budget will support DepEd’s MATATAG Agenda for Basic Education through the provision of higher allocations for textbooks and other instructional materials amounting to PHP12.04 billion; and PHP11.71 billion for the School-Based Feeding Program, among others.
Access to quality education will also be at the forefront of the government’s education agenda through the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (UAQTE) with some PHP51.12 billion, while the education assistance and subsidies will receive PHP41.05 billion.
Applying the lessons from the pandemic, the government has refocused its health priorities on ensuring reliable and accessible quality public health services for all, the Budget Secretary said.
In view of this, the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the Department of Health (DOH) will be provided with PHP22.98 billion for the construction, rehabilitation and upgrading of health facilities, rural health units and polyclinics, as well as the purchase of medical equipment and transport vehicles.
The government will also continue to expand access to quality health services by subsidizing the health premiums of the vulnerable sector through the National Health Insurance Program (PhilHealth) with PHP101.51 billion, and by covering the medical assistance of 1.31 million indigent and financially incapacitated patients with PHP22.26 billion.
In support of the Social Protection Floor Framework of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), a higher allocation of PHP112.8 billion will be provided to assist 4.4 million households under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
The recently launched Food STAMP or Philippine Food Strategic Transfer and Alternative Measures Program will be supported next year with PHP1.89 billion to address the nutrition needs of food-poor Filipinos.
Meanwhile, the allocation for social pension for indigent senior citizens has been doubled to PHP49.81 billion to cover the increased monthly allowance from PHP500 to PHP1,000 for more than 4 million indigent senior citizens.
In support of President Marcos’ flagship housing program, the Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino Program (4PH) will be allotted PHP9 billion.
Sound fiscal management and enhanced bureaucratic efficiency
Pangandaman said the 2024 NEP also ensures sound fiscal management through digitalization by adopting the Integrated Financial Management Information System or IFMIS throughout the bureaucracy following Executive Order No. 29, s. 2023.
To this end, some PHP2.92 billion will be allocated to improve the information and communication technologies (ICT) systems of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for the efficient collection of revenues.
The DBM will also continue to implement its Public Financial Management Program with PHP387.5 million, which includes the Budget and Treasury Management System.
Further, with the pronouncement of the President during his SONA that the government must fully embrace digitalization to provide better public service delivery, the 2024 NEP will allocate PHP38.75 billion to support the government’s ICT expenditures.
The Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) will be at the core of this digitally transformed network of government services which will continue to be supported with PHP1.61 billion.
Some PHP145.53 million will also be allocated for the strengthened implementation of the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act to reduce bureaucratic red tape.
Towards sustainability, a total of PHP543.45 billion has been earmarked for climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is equivalent to 9.4 percent of the total proposed budget, exceeding the country’s commitment of 8.0 percent share under the Philippine Development Plan.
The bulk of climate change expenditures will be allocated for water sufficiency projects with PHP294.46 billion to benefit communities all over the country.
The Philippine Space Agency will also be provided with PHP1.7 billion to better monitor the country’s land and marine resources, as well as terrestrial ecosystems, to ensure both agricultural productivity and environmental integrity. Of which, PHP1.2 billion will be used for the Multispectral Unit for Land Assessment (MULA) Satellite Development’s second year funding requirement.
To achieve lasting peace and progress in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the government will continue to provide financial assistance for BARMM amounting to PHP80.6 billion, which includes the Annual Block Grant with PHP70.5 billion, and another PHP1 billion will be set aside for the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Program.
Meanwhile, PHP5.3 billion has also been appropriated for the PAMANA or the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn Program for infrastructure development in BARMM to be implemented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.
“In closing, let me remind everyone that every peso of the PHP5.768 trillion 2024 national budget was optimized so we can remain on track with our Agenda for Prosperity,” Pangandaman said.
“It is the administration’s fervent hope that this budget will continue to lay the groundwork for future-proofing the economy and making the country’s growth inclusive and sustainable, not just for the Filipinos of today, but also for the future generations,” she added.
For his part, Romualdez assured President Marcos and the nation that the House of Representatives would approve the proposed PHP5.768-trillion 2024 national budget before the October congressional break.
“Let me assure everyone that the House of the People understands full well the need to pass the national budget on time. The national budget is crucial in maintaining economic stability, sustaining the country’s growth trajectory and facilitating the seamless implementation of government programs and projects. As such, it demands the House’s utmost attention and commitment,” he said.
Romualdez also assured that the House would deliberate “in a very transparent manner and get the widest consensus” for the spending plan.
“We will make sure that every centavo of the national budget will be spent wisely and contribute to our goal of reigniting the fires of our economic forges,” he said.
“Sisiguruhin namin dito sa Kongreso na lahat ng buwis na ibinayad ng ating mamamayan ay maibabalik sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng mga programa at proyekto ng gobyerno. Bawat pisong naidagdag sa kaban ng bayan, mapapakinabangan ng taumbayan (We in Congress will ensure that the taxes paid by our people will return to them in the form of government programs and projects. Every peso added to the nation’s coffers will benefit the people),” Romualdez said. (with reports from Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos/PNA)