Education, infra to get bulk of proposed 2018 nat'l budget

MANILA, Philippines – The proposed national budget for 2018 still prioritizes education and infrastructure, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced Friday, July 14.

The second national budget crafted under the Duterte administration, the proposed P3.77-trillion ($74.66 billion) budget is 12.4% higher than last year. The figure represents 21.6% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for 2018.

Under the next year's National Expenditure Program (NEP), the education sector receives the lion's share of funds with a total allocation of P691.1 billion ($13.65 billion).

The allocation of the education sector is with the Department of Education (DepEd) receiving P613.05 billion ($12.11 billion); the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) with P13.5 billion ($266.64 million); and state universities and colleges (SUCs) with P64.6 billion ($1.28 billion).

According to the DBM, it will be used in establishing and maintaining facilities; hiring teaching and non-teaching personnel; and in developing and providing learning materials to students. (READ: FAST FACTS: What you need to know about the PH education system)

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) were allocated P643.3 billion ($12.71 billion) and P73.8 billion ($1.46 billion), respectively, for infrastructure development.

The funds will be used to sustain the government's infrastructure program "Build, Build, Build" to improve mobility across the country and to improve the country's public transportation system.

The DPWH gained a 37.5% increase or P175 billion ($3.46 billion) from its 2017 allocation of P467.7 billion ($9.24 billion). (READ: Duterte's development plan: Recycled, failed economic policies)

In a Palace briefing, DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the proposed national budget will be submitted to Congress during President Rodrigo Duterte's second State of the Nation Address on July 24.

The 2017 NEP was submitted by the DBM to the House of Representatives mid-August 2016.

Top departments

Next to DepEd and DPWH, funds for internal security and public order received a considerable increase in the 2018 proposed budget.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has an allocation of P172.3 billion ($3.40 billion) – 15.4% higher than last year – while the Department of National Defense (DND) will receive P145 billion ($2.86 billion).

The allocation will be used in hiring additional police officers and to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard.

According to the budget department, DILG funds will also be used in improved law enforcement operations to combat illegal drugs and criminality. (READ: DILG to revive probe of local officials with drug links)

The health sector also received an additional P15.7 billion ($310.09 million) for 2018 or a 10.6% increase in funds. The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) has a combined allocation of P164.3 billion ($3.25 billion). (READ: Restoring RH budget a 'bright spot' for Duterte administration)

Meanwhile, budget allocated for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remains to be at P33.5 billion ($661.65 million).

On Friday, the DBM announced that it is ready to release rehabilitation funds of P5 billion for Marawi City, the ground zero of clashes between local terrorist groups and government forces. It is located in the ARMM.

Expenditure Program

In terms of sectoral allocation, social services remain to be the biggest recipient of funds at P1.45 trillion ($28.64 billion) or 38.5% of the proposed budget.

The chart below shows allocation per sector in the 2018 NEP as well as in the 2017 and 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA):

Budget for economic services receives a considerable increase of 25% at P1.15 trillion ($22.71 billion) from the previous year's P922-billion ($18.21 billion) allocation. (READ: What Duterte development plan ignores: Local industry, accessible social services)

General public services – which include allocations for general administration, public order and safety, other general public services, and subsidies to local government units (LGUs) – are to be given P636.5 billion ($12.57 billion). Defense gets P155.7 billion ($3.08 billion). – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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