Budget Watch

Gov’t proposes P240 billion, or 4% of 2022 budget, for pandemic response

Aika Rey

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Gov’t proposes P240 billion, or 4% of 2022 budget, for pandemic response

TREATMENT CENTER. The Saint Dymphna Isolation Facility in Imus City, Cavite, August 15, 2021.

Dennis Abrina/Rappler

The Duterte administration earmarks P45.37 billion for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots under unprogrammed appropriations in the 2022 budget, in case 'science requires it'

The Duterte administration is proposing a P240-billion pandemic war chest for 2022, lodged under various departments.

This is equivalent to 4% of the proposed P5.04-trillion national budget for next year.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday, August 19, presented the government programs that would be funded by this sum. 

The Department of Health (DOH) is seeking P48.4 billion for its programs, part of its proposed P242-billion budget. Here is the breakdown:

  • P19.47 billion – Health Facilities Enhancement Program
  • P16.997 billion – assistance to indigent patients
  • P819.4 million – prevention and control of communicable diseases
  • P463.58 million – procurement and supply chain and management service
  • P368.22 million – health information technology
  • P105.6 million – health facility policy and plan development, which includes funding for the One Hospital Command Center

The total amount under the DOH also includes funding for supplies for COVID-19 laboratories (P5.09 billion) and emergency hiring of health personnel (P3.8 billion). Projects with loan funding from the Asian Development Bank (P102.228 million) and the World Bank (P1.19 billion) are included as well.

P45.37 billion is also lodged under unprogrammed appropriations in case the Philippines decides to purchase COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

Unprogrammed appropriations provide standby authority, but do not necessarily mean that available funds can be used. It is only tapped when revenues exceed targets or if there are grants.

“Titignan natin kung meron talagang science that will require it. Gagawan ng paraan (We’ll see if there would be scientific evidence that would require it. If so, then we’ll do it),” Roque said.

P982.93 million was also earmarked for the establishment of the Virology Science and Technology Insitute of the Philippines, under the Department of Science and Technology. This project is part of the Build, Build, Build program and has been pending with the Senate health panel, chaired by Senator Bong Go, since May.

The University of the Philippines would also receive P140 million for Phase 2 of the Philippine Genomic Information and Resource Hub project, if approved.

As for social services, the Department of Labor and Employment has P33.63 billion from its P44.9-billion proposed budget for COVID-19. The biggest chunk will go to its emergency work program called TUPAD (P20.4 billion) and the repatriation program of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (P11.24 billion). P491.62 million was earmarked for the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, meanwhile, has P11.52 billion for COVID-19. It is mostly for the Kalahi-CIDSS program, P8.4 billion of which is funded through official development assistance and P2.7 billion under the proposed national budget.

Almost P100 billion of the Department of Education’s P700-billion budget was also marked as part of the government’s pandemic programs. It includes the DepEd’s usual programs – operating expenses of schools (P28.73 billion), the government’s subsidy and voucher program (P27.2 billion), and the flexible learning program (P15.22 billion).

The Department of Trade and Industry also has P1.2 billion earmarked for its livelihood program for micro, small, and medium enterprises.

The Department of Budget and Management is targeting to submit the 2022 National Expenditure Program on Monday, August 23. After the education sector, the Department of Public Works and Highways has the biggest budget among agencies at P686.1 billion.

The amounts stated in the proposed budget are not yet final, as Congress may still introduce cuts or increases for programs.

Congressional budget hearings usually begin in September. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.