PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday signed the P5.268-trillion 2023 national budget, thanking Congress for what he described as the fastest congressional deliberations ever for a national appropriations bill.
Following the record-breaking speed in which the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA) was signed, President Marcos Jr. said the government is now ready to roll out with its pandemic recovery initiatives next year.
In his speech after the signing of the 2023 GAA, Marcos lauded Congress for delivering to him the “quickest and fastest” passed national budget so far, which he considers as an early Christmas gift from lawmakers.
The GAA is usually signed in the last week of December, such as in the cases of the 2021 and the 2022 national budget. The 2020 GAA was passed into law in January 2020.
Marcos stressed the importance of the fast passage of the 2023 GAA, since it will serve as a government roadmap for the implementation of its programs.
He also noted that their proposed initiatives next year are backed by Congress.
“It is always very important that the GAA has been put together in consonance with all of the plans of the Executive. And that kind of coordination, and that kind of synergy that we will gain from that is going to be an essential part of the way that we move forward,” Marcos said.
“That bodes well for us, seeing as we have many, many plans. There are many things that we need to do. There are many things that we would like to do. And we are slowly moving in that direction,” he added.
The President said he will be pushing for more legislative amendments for investment and financial policy to boost the country’s economic growth.
In a statement, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the economic objectives outlined in the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) are as follows: 6.5 to 7.5 percent real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2022 and 6.5 to 8.0 percent real GDP growth annually between 2023 and 2028; 9 percent or single-digit poverty rate by 2028; 3-percent National Government (NG) deficit-to-GDP ratio by 2028; less than 60 percent national government debt-to-GDP ratio by 2025; and the attainment of upper-middle-income status for Filipinos.
‘Most important tool’
Reacting to the signing, Speaker Martin G. Romualdez said the budget will help the administration implement its Agenda for Prosperity to sustain growth, generate economic activities and jobs, and increase the income for Filipinos.
“It is the most important and potent tool the President, his economic team and the entire government can use to accomplish the goals of the prosperity roadmap,” said Romualdez, first cousin of Marcos Jr.
He said the House of Representatives and the Senate deliberated on and approved the President’s first full-year budget proposal “in record time.”
“As far as I can remember, the 2023 budget is one of the few spending bills signed into law in mid-December, way before the start of its implementation on New Year’s Day,” he added.
With the early signing, the administration, principally the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), now has enough time to prepare for the release of funds appropriated in the 2023 budget law, Romualdez said.
“The money needed to sustain our economic expansion momentum and keep the country on the high-growth path should be out on January 1. Agencies should be ready to keep up with their programs, activities and projects, while observing transparency and accountability,” Romualdez added.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Elizaldy Co said the P5.268-trillion 2023 budget will help the country move forward from the pandemic to prosperity.
“The annual passage of the General Appropriations Act is the single most important task of Congress. This GAA for 2023 will help the Philippines recover from the continuing effects of the pandemic and move forward to prosperity,” said Co.
Angara: Productive investments
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that spearheaded efforts to ensure timely passage of the money measure, said that, “in deliberating on the 2023 GAA, Congress was well aware of the need for the government to make productive investments in human and physical capital in order to empower the people, generate revenues, and address the most pressing needs of our kababayan.”
In a statement, Angara said: “As stated by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., this budget is anchored on an agenda for prosperity. We are no longer at a point where we are catching up and reacting to the developments just like the past two years. Now we can lay the foundation for the country to build on towards sustaining economic growth and providing more opportunities for our people.”
Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, in a text message to BusinessMirror, said the “timely passage”of the 2023 National Budget into law is “a Christmas gift for the Filipino nation.”
Villanueva added, “Our next job in the Senate is to make sure that there is transparency and accountability in the use of public funds. We will not let these funds meant to uplift our people’s lives fall to corruption or be squandered.”
He recalled that, “While there were disagreements on some issues during the bicameral conference committee meetings, both panels found common ground in the need to ensure that assistance is given to those who require it the most and to keep the momentum going in the country’s move towards economic recovery.”
With Butch Fernandez