Philippines plans 10% budget hike to fight poverty

The Philippine government on Tuesday proposed a budget hike for next year of more than 10 percent, making it worth $47.8 billion, as it seeks to fight poverty and boost social services.

The proposed budget, which would be worth just over two trillion pesos, will put an emphasis on social services such as the education and public works departments, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

More than 26 percent of the Philippine population of about 95 million people are considered by the government to be living in poverty.

"We're calling it an empowerment budget because every government peso that is spent in this budget is meant to benefit the people especially the poor," Abad told reporters.

Defence spending will only amount to 89.8 billion pesos or 4.5 percent of the total despite a festering territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, department documents showed.

The 2013 budget also increases a system of cash payments to poor households to 44.25 billion pesos covering 3.8 million families from 39.44 billion pesos for three million households in 2012, Abad said.

The programme provides monetary assistance to poor families under a number of conditions including that they keep their children in school.

Abad expressed optimism the proposed budget would be swiftly passed by Congress, saying that the legislators had been consulted and expressed their support for the plan.

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