Resource Gaps-A A +A
Friday, July 13, 2012
EMPOWERMENT budget, the Palace describes the P2.006 trillion proposed budget for 2012 where 34.8 percent was earmarked for social services which is 13.9 percent or P85 billion higher than this year’s P613.4 billion outlay.
The allotment will support the closing of resource gaps in basic education by next year; the coverage of 5.2 million poor households under the National Health Insurance Program; the construction of at least 103,000 affordable housing units for informal settlers in danger zones for soldiers, policemen and other uniformed personnel, among others; and the coverage of 3.8 million indigent households under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
The move is in line with the government priority agenda of reducing poverty incidence to 16.6 percent by 2016. The Defense Department gets the priority allocation though, “much bigger than it never had before” due to the issue in the West Philippine Sea.
If Congress approves the AFP Modernization Act, which will set aside about P78 billion for a five-year modernization program, then every year, the DND will be getting at least P15 billion to modernize its operations. The amount will also be used to strengthen the capacity of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Aquatic and Fisheries Resources.
Malacanang said the budget was guided by five principles including the President’s commitment to his social contract, accelerated completion of priority program targets, stronger government accountability to perform, transparency, and greater stakeholder participation in budget preparation and execution.
"We're calling it an Empowerment Budget because every government peso that is spent in this budget is meant to benefit the people especially the poor. So, in that way, we feel that we are empowering them," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said. The government will submit the 2013 budget on July 24, a day after President Aquino deliver his third State of the Nation Address.
The current resource allocation does not indicate a huge shift in the national priority which leans on security and defense. But it does reflect the intention of national government officials to enable the public to subsist on the day to day with the provision of a wider coverage of Philhealth, K12 and other stop gap measures.
The mere 34.8 percent resource allocation for social services may not be enough to respond to close the huge gap in quality health care, education, housing and other basic facilities to truly empower the people. The slight increase in resource allotment is one thing, while program frameworks and direction are another and may present a huge challenge in its implementation.
While at it, national government officials need not be transfixed on their proposed solutions so as to set aside the basic question on efficacy and responsiveness in governance. The gaps are real.
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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 13, 2012.