Education, infra get a third of proposed P3.757-T 2019 nat'l budget

MANILA, Philippines – Education, infrastructure, and the interior government will get the most funds under the proposed 2019 national budget.

The Department of Budget and Management on Friday, July 13, released the top agency allocations in the 2019 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

The first cash-based budget of the government, the 2019 NEP amounts to P3.757 trillion ($70.24 billion). The figure represents 19.3% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for 2019.

While the figure is "slightly" lower than the 2018 national budget's P3.767 trillion ($70.42 billion), Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the shift to cash-based budgeting makes the allocation for the next year "bigger", as it would force agencies to spend their funds within the year.

Under the proposed budget, the education sector receives the lion's share of the funds at P659.3 billion ($12.32 billion) – P72.2 billion ($1.35 billion) higher than its cash-based equivalent in the 2018 budget of P587.1 billion ($10.97 billion).

The allocation of the education sector is distributed among the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, state universities and colleges, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) receives the second highest fund allocation for next year at P555.7 billion ($10.38 billion). It is 68.29% higher than its P225.5 billion ($4.21 billion) budget for the previous year.

The DBM said the higher allocation for the public works department is "consistent" with the government's Build, Build, Build infrastructure program. Higher investments on infrastructure is targetted to support economic growth to reach 7% to 8% next year. (READ: DPWH blames contractors, slow permit application for infra delays)

The Department of the Interior and Local Government comes in third, receiving a proposed allocation of P225.6 billion ($4.22 billion), or P53.3 billion ($996 million) higher than the previous year's P172.3 billion ($3.22 billion). The increase is attributed to the higher salaries for the police.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) receives a notable increase from the 2018 General Appropriations Act as well, with an allocation of P76.1 billion ($1.42 billion). It got P35.9 billion ($671.11 million) more compared to 2018's P40.2 billion ($751.53 million) funding, equivalent to an 89.3% increase.

The funding for DOTr will be used for the construction of mass transport systems across the country, the DBM said.

Meanwhile, the health sector received a cut in its funding, with an allocation of P141.4 billion ($2.64 billion) only. This is 13.8% lower than 2018's P155.2 billion ($2.90 billion) share.

The DBM said the lower fund allocation for health is due to the significant cut in the Health Facilities Enhancement Program. The health sector's budget is shared by the Department of Health and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. (READ: Restoring RH budget a 'bright spot' for Duterte administration)

In comparison, the defense department is getting P183.4 billion ($3.43 billion) or 46.9 billion more than the previous year's P136.5 billion ($2.55 billion) – representing a 34.4% increase. Its allocation is 5% of the proposed 2019 budget.

Allocations per sector 

In terms of sectoral allocation, social services remain to be the biggest recipient of funds at P1.377 trillion ($25.74 billion), equivalent to 36.7% of the proposed budget.

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 slated to get P709.1 billion ($13.26 billion). The defense sector gets P188.2 billion ($3.52 billion).

The budget for economic services in the NEP will be at P1.068 trillion ($19.96 billion) while debt burden is at P414.1 billion ($7.74 billion).

On Tuesday, July 10, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the proposed national budget for 2019. Duterte is set to submit the proposed 2019 national budget to Congress during his State of the Nation Address on July 23. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P53.49

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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