PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. signed into law on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, the P5.768 trillion national budget for 2024 under the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Marcos signed Republic Act (RA) 11975 in a ceremony in Malacañang, which was attended by lawmakers from both the upper and lower chamber of Congress.
In his speech, Marcos said the approval of the measure is the renewal of the government’s annual social contract with taxpayers, that what they have paid faithfully will be rebated to them in full noting that the budget is aimed at fighting poverty and combating illiteracy, producing food and ending hunger, protecting homes and securing the country’s border, keeping people healthy, creating jobs and funding livelihood.
“It is wrong to say that the budget merely pays for the overhead of the bureaucracy. It is more than that. It funds the elimination of problems that we as a nation must overcome. It is incorrect to say that the budget merely finances the operations of government because its fine print bankrolls the realization of our dreams writ large,” the President said.
Marcos said he “wishes” to wipe out all of the government’s infrastructure backlogs with one budget cycle, but they are bound by what the State can collect and by what the tax coffers contain.
“We can be reckless, take the easy path, borrow, let our children pick today’s tab up tomorrow. But debt is not the kind of inheritance that we want to leave those who will come after us,” said Marcos.
“Good fiscal stewardship imposes upon us the discipline not to be led into the temptation of bloating what we owe. Good government dictates upon us the duty to spend the appropriations we have cobbled together for the correct purposes, the right way, on time, and on budget,” he added.
Marcos called on government agencies to carry out the expenditure program lawfully and to honor the taxpayers who made next year’s budget possible. He reminded them to fight red tape "that leads to underspending and overspending that disregards legal guardrails," emphasizing that these are 'two sides of the same coin.
“Implementation delay and illegal deviations inflict the same havoc of denying the people of the progress and development that they deserve,” he said.
“So, with this reminder comes the most important budget commandment that we must all receive. We are working for the people, not for ourselves. We are working for the country not for ourselves,” he added.
The 2024 National Expenditures Program for 2024 is 9.5 percent higher than the 2023 GAA and 21.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Majority of the 2024 national budget was allocated for education, health and social services.
It also includes P9 billion worth of confidential and intelligence funds (CIF), which will be allocated to government agencies in charge of security operations. There will be zero secret funds allocated to civilian agencies, including the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, which had earlier requested P650 million CIF. (SunStar Philippines)