President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed into law the PHP4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, which is 9 percent higher than last year’s PHP3.76 trillion budget.
Duterte signed the 2020 national budget (Republic Act 11465) in a ceremony at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang.
In his speech, Duterte said the passage of the 2020 national budget will support his administration’s goal of cutting poverty rate to just 14 percent and achieving a 7.5 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 2022.
Duterte said “a great portion” of the 2020 national budget will be allotted to “programs that will directly touch the lives of our people” such as infrastructure development and social services.
“We will spend  percent of the budget to fund programs on education, healthcare, housing and social welfare,” Duterte said.
“To further boost our thriving economy, we will likewise invest 29 percent of the budget in infrastructure, tourism, trade, job generation, and agriculture,” he added.
Duterte said 11 percent of the budget will be allotted to debt servicing, with the ultimate goal of bringing down government’s debt to just 39 percent of the GDP by 2022.
The President recognized the contribution of the Department of Budget and Management under the leadership of Acting Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado for their efforts in crafting this year’s budget.
He also thanked the Congress for supporting this administration’s fiscal policies through the continued adoption of the Cash Budgeting System and the full implementation of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.
“The passage of the 2020 General Appropriations Act is proof that with the invaluable help of both Houses of Congress, this government can effectively work together towards the enactment of key legislative measures that will support our development agenda in the next two and a half years,” Duterte said.
Duterte, meanwhile, asked Congress, civil society partners, and fellow civil servants in the executive department, to “remain driven towards our collective goal of providing a more comfortable life for our people.”
“Together, let us ensure that every peso in the budget will never be used to support the selfish greed of the few, but spent exclusively for the benefit and service of Filipino taxpayers,” Duterte said.
On Dec. 11 last year, Congress ratified the final version of the PHP4.1-trillion national budget bill for this year.
Duterte earlier said he wanted to avoid a repeat of the nearly four-month delay in 2019 budget enactment due to an impasse between the House and Senate on realignments made by some House members.
Congress vowed to ratify the budget on time to avoid a repeat of the delayed passage of the 2019 budget which prompted the national government to utilize a reenacted 2018 budget from January to mid-April last year.
The passage of the 2020 budget comes despite Senator Panfilo Lacson’s recent claim that it contains around 1,253 budget items amounting to PHP83.219 billion which serve as congressmen’s “source” of their “list” of 742 projects worth PHP16.342 billion.
Lacson earlier alleged that provinces that had the biggest share of the alleged insertions are Albay (PHP670 million), Cavite (PHP580 million), Sorsogon (PHP570 million), Batangas (PHP502 million), Bulacan (PHP440 million), Pangasinan (PHP420 million), and Cebu (PHP410 million).
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured that Duterte would exercise his veto powers to remove the funds inserted in the proposed 2020 national budget that will be found unconstitutional. (By Azer Parrocha, PNA)