Philippines’ highest budget

If President Benigno S. Aquino III will have his way, the Philippine national government will have a budget of P1.816 trillion next year. Already, he has submitted the proposed Government Appropriations Act (GAA) to Congress for its consideration.

The proposed national budget for 2012 will be the highest yet in the history of the Philippines. It represents 16.5 percent of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) and is based on a conservative growth assumption of 5.5 percent even as the administration continues to vie for 7-8 percent growth for 2012.

Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management said the budget deficit is expected to be reduced to P286 billion or 2.6 percent of GDP, lower than this year’s target of P300 billion or three percent of GDP. He added this was in line with the goal to significantly reduce the budget deficit to two percent of GDP by 2013.

“The 2012 national budget is a results-focused budget that is focused on fulfilling President (Benigno) Aquino III’s social contract with the Filipino people,” the DBM chief said. “We have scaled up funding for programs and projects that lead to direct, immediate and substantial benefits to the poor. At the same time, we scaled down funding for activities which have been ineffective and prone to corruption,” he added.

Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, chairman of the House appropriations committee, said hearings will begin on August 1, and hoped the budget would be signed by December 15. Under the proposed 2012 General Appropriations Act (GAA), the Department of Education (DepEd) will continue to receive the highest allocation, at P238.8 billion, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with P125.5 billion, and the Department of National Defense (DND) with P107.9 billion.

Given the satisfactory performance of his administration, thereby resulting in the Philippines’ upgraded credit ratings and the consequent savings of P23 billion in interest payments, it is very likely that the President will get his wish of seeing the proposed 2012 GAA approved by Congress in December.

Indeed, the early signs of positive changes as a result of President Aquino’s “daang matuwid” (straight road) and anti corruption pledge have been raising people’s hopes. For once, after so many presidents before him, people are beginning to trust their leaders again. For indeed, this humongous budget, when spent where they are supposed to, can pave the way for greater economic opportunities and real progress for his country and his people to enjoy.

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