By Jovee Marie De La Cruz, August 26, 2022; Business Mirror

The House Committee on Appropriations will officially begin today, Friday, August 26, the review and scrutiny of the P5.268-trillion proposed national budget for 2023 with a briefing by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).

Invited to the first budget briefing are Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director-General Arsenio Balisacan, Department of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla.

The DBCC reviews the macroeconomic targets, revenue projections, borrowing level, aggregate budget level and expenditure priorities of the government.

House Committee on Appropriations Senior Vice Chairperson and Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo said the key to approving the General Appropriations Bill by October 1, 2022 is facilitating communication channels between the various government agencies and members of Congress.

“As of last week, we have organized informal briefings for House members and so by Friday, August 26, we would be having our first budget briefing at the committee level and this is going to be by the DBCC. This will run all the way to September 16 and then by September 21, we should be ready for plenary debates,” she said.

“And by then, we are confident that many of the policy concerns raised by our members would have been resolved so that we expect swift and smooth plenary debates on September 21 so that approval should be done by October 1,” Quimbo said.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, for his part, assured the passage of the 2023 national budget would be transparent.

“This will be a product of the entire House of Representatives where the majority will listen to the concerns of our friends from the minority bloc,” the Speaker said.

The proposed P5.268-trillion national budget, the highest ever if approved by Congress, is P244 billion more than this year’s P5,023.6 trillion spending program. It represents 22.1 of GDP.

“And as the highest ever spending proposal ever to reach the halls of Congress, we will make sure that each bit of spending will contribute to our goal of reigniting the fires of our economic forges and at least propel the country to reach economic growth at pre-pandemic levels,” said Romualdez.

For 2023, the DBM said revenues are expected to grow by 10 percent year-on-year to P3.632.9 trillion, or 15.3 percent of GDP, while disbursements will increase by 2.6 percent to P5.085.8 trillion. Deficit, on the other hand, is expected to decline to P1.453.0 trillion, or 6.1 percent of GDP, from this year’s program of P1.650.5 trillion or 7.6 percent of GDP.

By sector, the social services will receive the biggest chunk of the P5.268-trillion national budget with P2.071 trillion; followed by economic services with P1.528 trillion; general public services with P807.2 billion; debt burden with P611 billion and defense P250.7 billion.

Budget schedule

According to the schedule of the budget hearings, the hearings for Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. will be on Tuesday, August 30.

Facing the lower chamber on Wednesday, August 31 are the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Tourism.

On September 1, Thursday, the Judiciary, Department of Energy, Energy Regulatory and Department of the Interior and Local Government are expected to defend their 2023 budget.

On September 2, agencies and offices that are invited to the budget hearings are the Office of the President, Office of the Press Secretary, Department of Agrarian Reform and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

On September 5, the Department of Agriculture and National Irrigation Administration are expected to present their budgets.

On September 6, the Department of Social Welfare and Development will present its budget for next year.

On September 7, the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Justice will face the appropriations committee for their budgets.

On September 8, invited agencies are the Department of Human Settlements and Urban and Development, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Migrant Workers.

On September 9, the Department of Information and Communication Technology, Commission on Higher Education, Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit will be invited.

On September 12, the Department of Health will face lawmakers’ inquiries on its budget allocation for 2023.

On September 13, the Department Transportation will defend its budget allocations for next year.

On September 14, Vice President Sara Duterte will defend the Office of the Vice President’s budget and Department of Education’s appropriations as the secretary of the agency.

On September 15, the Commission on Human Rights, Civil Service Commission, Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of National Defense are invited by the appropriation committee.

On September 16, Department of Public Works and Highways will be invited to present its budget.