MANILA, Philippines — The General Appropriation Bill (GAB), or the P5.768-trillion proposed national budget for 2024, continues the previous year’s agenda on economic growth and turning the country into a “middle-income nation.”
Senator Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, made the pronouncement as the bill reached the Senate plenary session on Tuesday.
According to Angara, the P5.768 trillion proposed budget is 9.5 percent higher than the previous year’s, and accounts for more than 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
New appropriations add up to P4.302 trillion, of which P4.02 trillion are programmed funds, while another P281.908 billion are listed as unprogrammed.
Automatic appropriations, meanwhile, amount to P1.748 trillion.
“If anything, in this proposal, we see more clearly the administration’s ideas on how to encourage growth, slash poverty, narrow the budget deficit and reduce debt, jumpstart the economy’s transformation, and finally cement our status as an upper middle-income nation,” said Angara.
“The general aim is still to pursue the agenda for prosperity, framed by the eight-point socioeconomic agenda of the administration (which includes Food Security, Improved Transportation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Health Care, Education, Social Services, Sound Financial Management, and Bureaucratic Efficiency),” he added.
Angara explained that with the budget, the government’s flagship programs shall be provided adequate funding including the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the Build Better More (BBM) program, infrastructure development, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA), as well as the Tulong Trabaho Act.
According to Angara, a total of P107.75 billion was allocated to the Department of Agriculture for its banner programs on rice, corn, livestock, high value crops development, soil health, fisheries, agricultural research and development and buffer stocking, among others.
Composting facilities, and support for the fishing industry were also endorsed under GAB.
“Patuloy din ang suporta ng badyet para sa mga programa at proyekto na magpapababa sagastusin para sa transportasyon at pagpapaikot ng mga produkto sa ating ekonomiya,” said Angara.
(“Budget support also continues for programs and projects that will lower costs for transportation and product circulation in our economy.)
Angara said the 2024 budget will continue to fund the DA’s Fuel Assistance Program for transportation to reduce the costs of transportation and logistics.
Along with this, the GAB also provided a P1.3 billion funding to the service contracting of public utility vehicles, as well as funding for the bike share system and safe pathways program.
Meanwhile, education remains to be the top budgetary priority, at P718.08 billion “to make up for the learning losses our children experienced throughout the pandemic.”
“We also aim to set them and future generations on the path to becoming productive Filipino citizens, who are more than ready for the fast-changing world of work,” said Angara.
Among the programs to be funded include the Senior High School Voucher Program, and the national certification for Grade 12 students taking Technical-Vocational-Livelihood under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda)
It also increased the budget for the human resource development of DepEd schools, the Tesda Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF) and the Tulong Trabaho Fund.
For health, Angara said the 2024 P243.36 billion budget will focus on improving healthcare facilities such as additional funding for the Bicol Regional Hospital and Medical Center, the National Children’s Hospital, the construction of a new hospital in Naga City, the completion of the Misamis Occidental Provincial Hospital, the construction of the Tagbilaran Mega Super Health Center, the equipment of Surigao Island Medical Center and of Cotabato Regional and Medical Center.
The budget also aims to strengthen specialty care, providing additional funding for the Lung Transplant Program, Early Detection of Lung Cancer initiatives, and the biobanking needs of the Lung Center of the Philippines; the purchase of X-Ray machines and the provision of free treatment for Pediatric Cancer, Blood Diseases, and Cardiovascular patients of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center; and the purchase of a new MRI machine and Heart Lung Machine and the upgrading of the Hospital Information systems of the Philippine Heart Center.
The budget, said Angara, will also focus on enhancing the country’s capabilities “to safeguard national security, maintain our territorial integrity, and uphold sovereignty.”
With programmed funds for national defense at P232.497 billion, additional funding will be provided to the government arsenal for the rehabilitation of its hospitals, new facilities and mobile storage units, as well as monitoring capabilities.
A chunk of the budget will also be allocated to improve the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) technology, including against cybercrime.