THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Wednesday night, September 28, 2022, the P5.268 trillion proposed national budget for 2023.

The approval of House Bill (HB) 4488 or the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) came two days after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. certified as urgent the proposed budget’s passage on September 26, 2022.

The lawmakers voted 289 against three in passing the bill.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez, in a statement Wednesday, lauded his colleagues for their “valuable contributions in the swift passage of GAB, as well as for ensuring that “every centavo is spent wisely to implement the programs of the Marcos administration aimed at revitalizing the country's economy amid the lingering ill-effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”

“The expeditious passage of the proposed 2023 budget is the product of the collective effort of the entire House, in transparent and open proceedings where the majority accorded ample opportunity for the constructive inputs of our friends from the minority bloc,” Romualdez said.

He said the House-approved budget for 2023 remains consistent with the eight-point socio-economic agenda of the Marcos administration to achieve sustainable growth.

Marcos called on Monday, September 26, for the swift passage of the proposed 2023 budget “in order to address the need to maintain continuous government operations following the end of current fiscal year, strengthen efforts to respond more effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic, and support initiatives towards national economic recovery.”

With the approval of GAB on Wednesday, the House met its self-imposed deadline to terminate the deliberations on the proposed budget prior to the adjournment of session from October 1 until November 6, 2022.

It took the House of Representatives barely six weeks to approve the GAB, from the time the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) submitted the National Expenditure Program (NEP) on August 22, 2022.

Romualdez also acknowledged the crucial role of House Majority Leader and Rules Committee chair Manuel Jose M. Dalipe, Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Zaldy Co, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, and senior vice chairperson of the House committee on appropriations and Marikina City Representative Stella Luz Quimbo in spearheading the passage of the 2023 budget, including the deputies and various team that managed the flow of deliberations in the plenary.

Earlier, the administration’s economic team had pointed out that the goal of the Marcos administration seeks to achieve 6.5 to 8.0 percent real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth annually between 2023 to 2028 in order to attain a single-digit or 9.0 percent poverty rate by 2028.

Pursuant to such goal, the P5.268 Trillion NEP submitted by the DBM is 4.9 percent higher than the 2022 budget and puts top priority on education, infrastructure development, health, agriculture and social safety nets.

Under the NEP, the education sector will receive an 8.2 percent increase next year at P852.8 billion and will remain with the highest budgetary priority as mandated by the Constitution.

Department of Education’s (DepEd) budget received an increase from P633.3 billion in 2022 to P710.6 billion in 2023.

A total of P1.196 trillion has been allocated for the government’s 2023 infrastructure programs.

As for the health sector, a 10.4 percent budget increase at P296.3 billion has been allocated in 2023, inclusive of the budgets of the Department of Health (DoH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).

To improve its performance, the agriculture sector was allocated P184.1 billion, a 39.2 percent increase from its 2022 allocation.

The total amount includes P29.5 billion for irrigation services.

These allocations are in line with Marcos’ directive that top priority must be given to the agriculture to invigorate and transform this sector from being an economic laggard to one of the main drivers for growth and employment. (LMY/PR)