2023 National Budget: Debt servicing and education get highest allocation

·Contributor
·2 min read
Department of Budget and Management Undersecretary Amenah Pangandaman submits the 2023 National Expenditures Program to House Speaker Martin Romualdez. (Photo: Martin Romualdez/Facebook)
Department of Budget and Management Undersecretary Amenah Pangandaman submits the 2023 National Expenditures Program to House Speaker Martin Romualdez. (Photo: Martin Romualdez/Facebook)

Debt servicing and education will get the biggest chunk of the P5.268-trillion proposed budget of the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration.

On Monday (August 22), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) officially transmitted the 2023 National Expenditures Program (NEP) to Congress, with House Speaker Martin Romualdez making a promise to DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman that the lower house will tackle the budget right away before they go on recess on October 1.

“The budget [process] of 2023 will be very transparent. This will be a product of the entire House of Representatives where the majority will listen to the minority bloc’s concerns and of course, we as the representatives of the people will also be attuned to their needs,” Romualdez said.

He also assured that “every centavo of the national budget will be spent wisely to implement programs that would save lives, protect communities and make our economy strong and more agile.”

However, a whopping P1.6 trillion – or 29.8% of the proposed budget – will just go to debt servicing as the government has to repay the debts it incurred, with next year’s debt servicing expenses expected to be bigger than this year’s, at P1.35 trillion.

According to the NEP, debt payments in next year’s budget include P1.02 trillion in principal amortization and P582.3 billion for interest. At present, the national government’s outstanding debt is at P14.63 trillion by the end of 2023.

Meanwhile, P852.8 billion was proposed for the Department of Education (DepEd) to help the agency implement a full resumption of face-to-face classes.

However, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro said that at least P1.3 billion must be allocated to the education department.

The educator-turned-legislator also slammed in a statement the proposed budget cut in the University of the Philippines and UP-Philippine General Hospital.

A report from the Philippine Collegian, UP’s official student paper, said that the DBM has proposed a P2.54 billion budget cut for the UP System in 2023, with P893 million slashed in the UP-PGH’s budget, the country’s official COVID referral hospital.

“UP-PGH is at the front lines of this battle against this virus and instead of increasing its budget it was reduced, how tragically ironic can you get?” Castro said.

This year’s proposed budget is 4.9 percent higher than the 2022 budget, with Pangandaman saying that it was crafted with the theme “Agenda for Prosperity: Economic Transformation Towards Inclusivity and Sustainability.”

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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