By Katrina Hallare, August 2, 2020; Philippine Daily Inquirer

Manila, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the proposed P4.506 trillion national budget for 2021, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said Sunday.

In a statement, the DBM said that Duterte approved the budget during a special meeting with the Development Budget Coordination Committee last July 30.

The proposed budget, according to the DBM, is aimed to sustain the government’s efforts in responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The proposed fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget aims to sustain government efforts towards effectively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing government spending on improving our healthcare systems, ensuring food security, increasing investments in public and digital infrastructure, and helping communities cope and prevail in these trying times, hence, the theme ‘Reset, Rebound and Recover: Investing for resiliency and sustainability,’” the DBM said.

The P4.506 trillion budget is 9.9 percent higher, compared to 2020’s P4.1 trillion national budget, and equivalent to 21.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

“Every peso of the proposed PhP4.506 trillion FY 2021 Budget went through numerous budget hearings and consultations with the agencies, and levels of scrutiny and approval,” the DBM said.

The DBM, however, has yet to submit the 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP) to Congress.

Previously, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said that the DBM has until Aug. 27 to submit the NEP.

According to him, the 1987 Constitution allows the executive branch to submit its proposed budget to Congress within a month from the start of the regular session.