By Jean Mangaluz, June 23, 2023; Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has approved the  P5.768 trillion National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2024, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Friday.

The 2024 NEP is 9.5 percent higher than this year’s P5.268 trillion budget.

It is also 21.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the NEP for 2024 was created with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028, and the eight-point socio-economic agenda in mind.

“It shall continue to reflect our commitment to pursue economic and social transformation to address the scarring effects of the pandemic, as well as the impact of inflation, by prioritizing shovel-ready investments in infrastructure projects, investments in human capital development, and sustainable agriculture and food security, among others,” Pangandaman said in a statement.

According to her, the NEP was a product of several factors, including each agency’s budget utilization rates as well as the alignment of their programs, activities and projects.

“We also referred to the agencies’ respective absorptive capacity, as we considered that a low budget utilization rate may reflect the agency’s limited capacity to utilize additional funds,” Pangandaman said.

She said the NEP will be submitted to Congress a few weeks after the President’s State of the Nation Address on July 24.

According to DBM, the NEP will serve as the government’s spending plan for each year and is deliberated in both chambers of Congress.

Once it is approved, the program is signed into law and will be known as the General Appropriations Act.