Press Release
November 20, 2012

After sin tax, Drilon defends P2.006 trillion 'empowerment' budget

Senator Franklin M. Drilon has been proving that he has an exceptional capacity for hard work as he would waste no single amount of time to ensure the timely passage of another crucial bill, the P2.006 trillion 2013 national budget, which he is set to sponsor on the floor today (Wednesday), a day after the long debates on the P40-billion sin tax reform bill ended.

In his sponsorship speech, Drilon, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee that reviews the country's proposed expenditure outlays, would explain his panel's proposed minimal amendments to the General Appropriations Bill which the House of Representatives submitted to the Senate on October 16.

"The Committee on Finance has performed its task of scrutinizing the proposed national budget with a fine tooth comb through the recently-concluded round of budget hearings and technical working group meetings," said Drilon, who just went through tedious deliberations on the sin tax bill.

He would describe the 2013 outlay, dubbed as the "Empowerment Budget", as a "bridge of hope" - a budget that paves the way to a future where dreams do come true - for almost 100 million Filipinos as it was crafted to address the plight of the poor and the vulnerable Filipinos.

"Let not cold statistics but warm bodies guide our decisions and priorities in this budget. Let us not forget that these numbers pertain to real, flesh-and-blood Filipinos whose empowerment, through deliverance from backbreaking poverty, will ultimately shape the destiny of our nation," said Drilon.

"The proposed 2013 budget is more than about the national government's expenditures and sources of financing for next year. It is the keystone to good governance in all its many facets -- from basic social services to national security, from inclusive economic growth to peace and the rule of law, from disaster prevention and crisis management to anti-corruption and participatory governance," stressed Drilon.

The Drilon committee maintained the House bill level of P1.25 trillion programmed funds, P117.55 billion unprogrammed funds, and P1.37 trillion new appropriations.

However, the committee proposed incremental funds for a few agencies including the Bureau of Immigration for the purchase of five passport reading machines and the Anti-Money Laundering Council for repairs and maintenance programs.

He also noted there were also realignments within selected agencies to reflect their actual needs and priorities which include the P1 million from the Supreme Court to provide additional funds for the construction of the Manila Hall of Justice, as well as the P500 million for the Commission on Elections to fund purchase of land and construction of building to serve as a warehouse for precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

The proposed P2.006 trillion 2013 national budget is 10.5 percent higher than the P1.816 trillion budget this year, and represents 16.8 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, he noted.

He noted the rosy economy in the first quarter because of renewed business and consumer confidence, improved external trade, and accelerated government spending resulted in a 6.4 percent growth rate.

"The government intends to further trim the fiscal deficit to two percent of GDP in 2013 from its current target of 2.6 percent to create a robust and sustainable fiscal space," he added.

By sector, the biggest share of 34.8 percent will go to social services, while 25.5 percent will be for economic services. On the other hand, debt-servicing burden will fall to 16.6 percent next year from 18.3 percent in 2012. General public services will have a 17.3 percent share while defense will get 4.5 percent.

He noted that education sector will continue to be the government's top priority in the 2013 budget, as mandated by the Constitution, with the Department of Education budget increasing by 22.6 percent to P292.7 billion, from P238.8 billion this year. "A P54 billion increase in funding will help address shortages in education resources such as classrooms, teachers and textbooks. It will also support the department's K+12 program."

The DPWH is second with P152.9 billion, followed by the Department of National Defense (P121.6 billion), DILG (P121.1 billion), DA (P74.1 billion), DOH (P56.8 billion), DSWD (P56.2 billion), DOTC (P37.1 billion), DOF (P33.2 billion), and the DENR (P33.2 billion).

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