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Senate targets passage of 2023 budget bill by mid-December

THE SENATE is hoping to pass its 2023 budget bill by mid-December, according to the senator who chairs the upper chamber’s Finance Committee.

“We start the DBCC hearings on Tuesday… and hope to finish our committee hearings in early to mid-October; then plenary debates in early to mid-November leading up to the passage of the budget bill in late November; then bicam(eral session) and signing by the President in early to mid-December, that is target schedule,” Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara said in a statement Sunday.

The House of Representatives has begun deliberating on next year’s budget, with its own target of ending hearings by Sept. 16. Plenary debate is set to begin on Sept. 21, with the chamber hoping to pass its bill by Oct. 1.

The P5.268-trillion budget as proposed in the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP) is 4.9% higher than this year’s budget, and is equivalent to 22.2% of gross domestic product.

Mr. Angara said the Senate’s priorities include the health sector; the poor; the micro, small and medium enterprises; and youth employment. “We hope to continue strengthening the health sector and health system, particularly PGH (Philippine General Hospital),” he said, adding that its budget has been increasing in the last few years.

Under the proposal submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), health funding will rise 10.4% next year to P296.3 billion. Funding for the Department of Health (DoH) will increase 6.6% to P196.08 billion, while the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will get P100.23 billion.

“Marginalized sectors and those hard hit during the pandemic hopefully will be given support through programs that aid recovery and help them get back on their feet,” Mr. Angara said.

The allocation for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is due to fall 3.8% to P197.03 billion next year.

This includes P115.6 billion for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of cash transfers; P25.3 billion for the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens; P19.9 billion for Protective Services for Individuals and Families in Difficult Circumstances; and P4.4 billion for the Sustainable Livelihood program.

“We intend to include support for our entrepreneurs through credit programs (and) small business shared support services like equipment,” Mr. Angara said.

“We hope to ramp up training and skills programs for our young people, that greatly aid in… making our workforce attractive to investors,” he added.

The budget for the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) is P25.90 billion, down 29.9%, reflecting the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), which has a P15 billion proposed budget, including P11.7 billion for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, previously a DoLE agency.

Most of the DoLE’s proposed budget is for its Livelihood and Emergency Employment program, earmarked for P18.4 billion. This includes the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (Tupad) program, allocated P14.9 billion and the DoLE Integrated Livelihood Program, allocated P2.5 billion.

“These are a few initiatives we hope to work together to push going forward,” Mr. Angara said.

Most of next year’s proposed budget will go to social services — P2.071 trillion or 39.31%, and economic services — P1.528 trillion or 29.01%. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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