Aquino signs P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday, December 22, signed into law the P3.002 trillion national budget for 2016.

The 2016 budget is the biggest national funding to date.

In a speech in Malacañang, the President said: "Malinaw po: Ang buong budget gaya sa imprastraktura ay binubuo gamit ang masusing pag-aaral ng mga suliranin at ng kaakibat nitong wastong solusyon. Ang bawat ipinapatayong kalsada, tulay, daungan, paliparan, paaralan, farm-to-market roads, at iba pang imprastraktura sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa ay bahagi ng ating estratehiya tungo sa malawakang kaunlaran." (It's clear that the entire budget is based on a serious study of problems and solutions to them. Each road, bridge, school, airport, or farm-to-market road that is built is according to our strategy of inclusive growth.)

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said: "With this budget, we have doubled the national budget since 2010 and we are providing the largest sectoral allocation to social services. This budget also caps the administration's record of enacting the budget in time for a perfect 6 straight times."

According to him, next year’s budget is double the first budget that Aquino passed in 2010, which was P1.645 trillion. It is also the 6th and last budget to be passed under the current administration. 

In the last 5 years, the Congress and the Executive had promptly passed the budget, preventing a re-enactment of the previous year’s appropriation scheme. A budget re-enactment occurred at least 4 times during former President Gloria Macapagl-Arroyo’s decade-long rule.

Biggest shares

In a statement, Abad said the 2016 GAA is higher by P396 billion or 15.2% than the P2.606-trillion 2014 national budget. The focus continues to be on social services that directly benefit individual citizens, such as education and health, both with increased budgetary allocations at P436.5 billion and P128.5 billion, respectively, he added.

"It can be gleaned that for every P100 of the 2016 budget, around P64 will be spent on social and economic services. This clearly shows how the government is wisely investing on its people, with the foresight of supporting services that will keep serving their needs long into the future," said Abad.

Aquino said Abad made sure that the money will be well spent. "Masusi niyang sinuri ang bawat pahina at detalye ng librong ito, at sinigurong walang mawawaldas ni isang kusing." (Abad scrutinized each page and detail, and made sure that not a single cent will be wasted.)

The 2016 budget contains increased funding for different government agencies.

Among those that received the highest allocations are:

Other notable inclusions in the budget were the P64 billion allocation for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program and the doubling of the Vice President’s budget from P230 million to P500 million. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund was also allotted P38.9 billion. (READ: House ratifies P3-trillion national budget for 2016) 

Also for the first time, funds have been alloted for the pension of surviving spouses of World War II veterans. It also includes the partial payment of the total administrative disability (TAD) of living war veterans who are at least 80 years old by 2016.

It also includes budget for the first tranche of implementation of the proposed salary hike for government workers under the new Salary Standardization Law, which is still pending at the Senate for ratification.

Focus on social and economic services

Abad earlier said the 2016 budget “represents the government’s commitment to invest in people.”

He noted that compared to previous administrations, budgets passed from 2010 to 2016 provided for the highest allocations on social and economic services. 

Abad also boasted of “high impact budget reforms” that “have enhanced the operational efficiency of agencies, as well as accountability and transparency in the budget process.”

Among the reforms he was referring to were the Bottom-up budgeting (BuB) program and the Performance Informed Budgeting (PIB).

The BuB, he said, opened for the participation of 1,590 cities and municipalities in the budget planning process.

While through the PIB, government agencies are committed to implementing their projects by submitting their Major Final Outputs (MFO) to Congress that will serve as an indicator of how much resource will be allocated to their offices.

“It [also] made it easier to gauge the performance of an agency. Compared to the traditional line-item based budgeting, it links funding to results,” Abad said. 

“This enabled agencies to meet their targets and timelines and address the causes of underspending, such as problems in procurement,” he added. – Rappler.com