Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, today assured the timely passage of the proposed 2017 national budget following the early turnover of the National Expenditure Program (NEP) by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to the Senate on August 15, 2016.
Legarda said they will ensure the timely passage of the 2017 budget in the Senate and that the deliberations will be transparent and consultative.
She also gave the assurance that they shall scrutinize the budget to the extent that it will leave no suspicion that the resources of the country are used for any purpose but solely for the needs of every Filipino and the growth of the nation.
The senator added that they see a marked increase in the allocation for social services which is 40% of the President’s budget as well as a significant rise in public spending in terms of infrastructure and on education.
The proposed national budget for 2017 is P3.35 trillion, which is higher by 11.6% compared to the P3.002 trillion budget for 2016.
Among all agencies, the Department of Education (DepEd) has the highest proposed allocation at P567.6 billion, which is 31% higher than its 2016 budget.
The 2017 budget of DepEd targets the creation of 53,831 teaching positions and 13,391 teaching-related and non-teaching positions; the construction and repair of 47,492 school buildings; and increase the grantees of Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) to 2,664,661.
In terms of budget distribution by sector, the NEP shows that Social Services will have the highest share at 40%. In particular, allocation for social protection under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) shows that Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens will increase from P8.71B in 2016 to P17.94B in 2017. This will now cover all indigent senior citizens.
Meanwhile, the Conditional Cash Transfer program covering the same number of beneficiaries as last year, will increase from P62.67B in 2016 to P78.69B in 2017. This will include a new assistance in the form of rice allowance.
“The Committee on Finance is all set for the budget deliberations. No time will be wasted to make sure that this will indeed be ‘a budget for real change’ as the Executive dubs it. It is our duty to ensure that the people’s money is judiciously used for the common good,” Legarda said.#