December 16, 2016
P3.35 TRILLION PEOPLE’S BUDGET FOR 2017 GETS GO SIGNAL FROM CONGRESS
The Philippines can expect significant change coming in 2017 as the House of Representatives and the Senate ratified the P3.35 trillion national budget – the first under the Duterte administration – on December 13 and 14, respectively.
“On behalf of the Department of Budget and Management, I would like to commend the Senate for making the Filipino people the priority of this budget, and Senate Finance Committee Chair Loren Legarda especially, for her wisdom and her unparalleled dedication in ensuring that the People’s budget for 2017 truly responds to the needs of those at the lowest rungs of the socioeconomic ladder,” said Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno.
In a statement published in her official website, Senator Legarda describes the budget as “pro-people…one that will be felt by those at the grassroots” and emphasizes that the budget is “in line with the President’s 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda.”
“Representative Karlo Nograles deserves praise likewise, for his extraordinary diligence and faith,” added Sec. Diokno. Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles heads the House Appropriation Committee, reviewing the proposed budget on the first level. Last Tuesday (December 13), Rep. Nograles and Sen. Legarda officially signed the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed 2017 budget.
The People’s budget for 2017 – so far the biggest annual budget assembled – supports fundamental services needed by Filipinos and includes provisions that reach out to the marginalized sectors and underdeveloped provinces in the country.
In her sponsorship speech last November, Senator Legarda stressed that the P3.35 trillion budget plan aspires to meet “not just today’s needs, but one that looks beyond 2017 – one that contributes to delivering long-term solutions to the country’s long-term problems.”
Some of the highlights of the budget include an increased allocation for infrastructure development, free education for state universities and colleges, universal healthcare, rice allowance for the poor, free irrigation for farmers, subsistence allowance for prisoners, and pension for war veterans and centenarians.
In particular, the 2017 budget allots more than P850 billion to building roads, bridges, transport infrastructure, and other public works. This will raise infrastructure spending to at least 5 percent of Gross Domestic Product to unlock our growth potential.
Reflected in the budget is the strong support for human capital development, with an increased allotment of P8 billion for the Higher Education Support Fund that will grant scholarships to students enrolled in state universities and colleges.
The significant boost in the budget allocation for the Department of Education (DepEd) from P433 billion in 2016 to P544 billion for 2017 will be spent on capital outlays and increase teachers’ cash or chalk allowance from P1,500 to P2,500.
The Congress also approved the funding for TESDA projects such as Training for Work Scholarship Program/Livelihood and Training Provision for Drug Dependents, which offers drug users and dealers a means to change and uplift their lives through education and skills training.
Meanwhile, an additional P1.5 billion is allocated to the Department of Health’s program Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB), while an upsurge of P3 billion is appropriated to health insurance, providing Filipinos access to a universal healthcare program. This brings the total funding for the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation at almost P150 billion for 2017.
Indigent patients, under the No Balance Billing policy, will receive completely free service from government hospitals. DOH Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers will be built in provinces that lack such facility through the P2.646 billion allocation.
An amount of P128.3 billion will fund the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) social protection services, one of which is the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) with P78.2 billion. The CCT is a safety net program that provides a monthly financial assistance, specifically, a rice allowance in the form of cash grants distributed to 4.4 million impoverished households.
The Department of National Defense (DND) receives further subsidy for the repair of Veterans Center, an expanded veterans’ hospitalization benefits, and the construction of new barracks.
Additional funds are provided to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in support of firefighters and the Philippine National Police (PNP) who leads the country’s fight against illegal drugs. The augmented allowance for prisoners and the construction of jail facilities are also detailed in the 2017 budget.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are provided with funds for the restoration of mangroves and implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP), which serves a double purpose of improving the environment and providing sustenance and livelihood to communities through the planting of fruit-bearing trees and other plants useful in different industries.
Granted an additional P2 billion, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will relieve farmers from paying costly irrigation fees.
Micro entrepreneurs will receive support from the government through the P1 billion allotment under the Small Business Corporation, allowing them to loan with minimal interest.
The 2017 national budget will be transmitted to Malacañang for signing of President Duterte on December 22.
For more information on the 2017 national budget, visit www.dbm.gov.ph.
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