MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has announced a sharp increase in next year’s national budget to fund his controversial war on crime, with security forces to get big pay rises.
The political outsider swept to a landslide election victory in May and immediately implemented an anti-drug crackdown that has seen police and vigilantes kill more than 1,000 people, according to media tallies.
In announcing a 3.35-trillion-peso ($72.3 billion) 2017 budget, up 11.6 percent from this year, Duterte said late on Monday a top priority for the increased government spending would be “more effective crime suppression”.
The police budget will increase by 24.6 percent, to 110.4 billion pesos, with the money to be spent on hiring more officers, raising their salaries and buying them more guns, according to a government statement.
The judiciary’s budget will rise by 21.5 percent to help them handle more cases, it said.
Duterte is also planning a 15-percent rise in the military budget, to 130.6 billion pesos.
No details were released on the military and police pay raises, but Duterte, the president for the next six years, has repeatedly vowed to double them.
To address what the government described as the country’s “broken” infrastructure network, Duterte will spend 860.7 billion pesos, up 13.8 percent from 2016, for fixing or building roads, railways, seaports and airports.
The figure boosts infrastructure spending to 5.4 percent of the country’s expected total economic output next year, with the target eventually rising to between six and seven percent of the gross domestic product, it added.
According to projections by Bloomberg, the 2017 budget could widen the government’s deficit to 478.1 billion pesos or 3.0 percent of GDP, from a projected 2.7 percent this year.
The first Duterte budget continues the double-digit annual rises seen during the term of predecessor Benigno Aquino.
Congress has to approve the budget, but this is widely expected to be a formality due to a huge majority of Duterte allies in both chambers. AFP