President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday signed the P2.265-trillion budget for 2014, the biggest approved so far.
The budget is P3 billion lower than the President’s proposal after certain allocations, including the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers, were deleted by Congress.
This is the first time the appropriation law has no allocation for the pork barrel, which was earlier declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
However, the budget is P2 billion or about 13 percent higher than this year’s P2.006 trillion.
The biggest slice, P841.8 billion, or 37.2 percent, will go to social services.
The administration’s priority program Conditional Cash Transfer got P62.6 billion, while the construction and repair of public school classrooms have P44.6 billion.
P593.1 billion (26.2 percent) is allocated to economic services including the P94.3 billion for construction of national roads, P10.7 billion for technical support services, and P5.5 billion for tourism promotion.
The government’s disaster preparedness and rehabilitation programs also received one of the biggest increases.
Aside from the P16.9-billion quick response fund distributed across different line agencies, the government allocated a P100-billion lump sum for the rehabilitation of calamity-hit areas.
Of the P100 billion, P80 billion will be allocated for the government’s rehabilitation plans. The remainder will be divided among various local government units and agencies.
This amount is over and above the already approved P14.6 supplemental budget, as well as the remaining P12 billion in 2013 calamity funds.
In his speech after signing the 2014 General Appropriations Act, the President said the priority of the budget is “inclusive development.”
“We will not allow the mistakes of the past to be repeated. We are continuously improving on the strategy we laid out when we began treading the straight path. Through proper spending—and through cooperation with partner institutions—we will equip the government with the wherewithal to respond to any situation confronting our country,” he said
“This is still the basis of our goal to ensure that each peso in our national coffers redounds to equivalent benefits for our bosses—the Filipino people,” Aquino added.
The President said this is the country’s first “performance-informed” budget, which outlines specific performance targets agencies must achieve using their allocations. Agencies must submit quarterly reports to be posted on the budget department’s website.
“This is our way of ensuring the accountability of agencies and departments to the Filipino people. I encourage the public to examine the performance targets of agencies and to be one with us in monitoring the performance of their duties, the moment the approved GAA is published in the website of the Department of Budget and Management,” Aquino said.
“Through this process, we are not just removing programs and processes which lead to waste, or have been proven to be inefficient—we are crafting this budget to answer all the needs of the Filipino people. The data outlined in the thick book I have signed may change every year, but the spirit of our Budget always remains the same: the money of the people is solely for the people. Every centavo in our nation’s coffers should be used for the welfare and the advancement of our bosses,” he added.
The President thanked Congress for passing the budget bill on time.
It was the fourth time that the national budget was passed on time.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said enacting the budget on time is “effectively setting next year’s expenditure program in motion and instituting a range of public spending reforms that will bring greater efficiency, transparency, accountability, and openness in the budget process.”
CATHERINE S. VALENTE