The Senate is all set to conduct plenary debates on the proposed P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024, starting today, Wednesday, November 8.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, who formally sponsored the measure on Tuesday, November 7, said the avowed goals of the 2024 budget are no different from last year’s.

“If anything, in this proposal, we see more clearly the administration’s ideas on how to encourage growth, slash poverty, narrow the budget deficit and reduce debt, jumpstart the economy’s transformation, and finally cement our status as an upper middle-income nation,” Angara said in his sponsorship speech.

“The general aim is still to pursue the agenda for prosperity, framed by the eight-point socioeconomic agenda of the administration (which includes Food Security, Improved Transportation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Health Care, Education, Social Services, Sound Financial Management, and Bureaucratic Efficiency), buttressed by the Medium-Term Fiscal Work (MTFF) that Congress adopted early on, and encapsulated by the 2022 – 2028 Philippine Development Plan (PDP),” the senator said.

New appropriations under the 2024 national budget amounts to P4.302-trillion, of which P4.02-trillion are programmed funds, while P281.908-billion is to be listed as unprogrammed. On the other hand, automatic appropriations amount to P1.748-trillion. 

Under the budget bill, the government’s flagship programs shall be provided adequate funding “so they can continue in earnest”; and these included the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or the 4Ps, the Build Better More (BBM) program, the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA) and the Tulong Trabaho Act. 

The proposed 2024 budget also allocated P107.75-billion budget for the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) banner programs that aim to ensure food security. It also continued budget assistance for fisherfolks and farmers. 

Next year’s budget also ensures that the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) infrastructure programs would be fully-funded and also includes allocation for fuel subsidy of public utility vehicles (PUVs). 

The Department of Education’s (DepEd) budget was also increased by P3.5-billion; additional funding was also provided to address the country’s shortage of healthcare workers. 

The finance committee also endorsed additional funding for the country’s defense sector to enhance the country’s capabilities to defend national security especially in the West Philippine Sea.

On the matter of confidential funds of certain government agencies, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, in a separate interview, said the Senate may restore some of the P1.23-billion earmarked as confidential funds by the House of Representatives but these will be “itemized” under the Senate version.

Villanueva said there is still an “overwhelming majority” of senators who are against granting confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) to civilian agencies.

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri earlier said the Senate plans to finalize the final version in three to four weeks or by the first week of December.

“I believe it (the 2024 budget) would be ready for the President’s signature by the second week of December,” Zubiri told reporters after Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s address to Congress last week.



Source: Manila Bulletin (