MANILA – The Senate Committee on Finance, chaired by Senator Loren Legarda, on Tuesday began deliberations on the proposed PHP3.35-trillion national budget for 2017, dubbed as “A Budget for Real Change.”
Present were Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Ernesto Pernia, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. and other economic leaders.
The proposed national budget for 2017 is PHP3.35-trillion, which is an increase of 11.6 percent compared to the PHP3.002-trillion budget for 2016.
It represents a 20.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, higher than the 20.1 percent GDP share this year.
According to the National Expenditure Program (NEP), Social Services will have the highest share of the budget in terms of budget distribution by sector at 40 percent.
Allocation for social protection under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) shows that Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens will increase from PHP8.71-billion in 2016 to PHP17.94-billion in 2017 to cover all indigent senior citizens.
The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program covering the same number of beneficiaries as last year, will increase from PHP62.67-billion in 2016 to PHP78.69-billion in 2017 to include a new assistance in the form of rice allowance.
Legarda expressed support for the administration’s thrust to improve education, ensure that more citizens have access to quality and efficient social services, and increase public spending in terms of infrastructure.
She also said that she sought to attune the national budget with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are global aims to end poverty and hunger, improve health and education among others.
“As we express our support to the administration’s programs, your Committee on Finance will likewise ensure that it will scrutinize the national budget of 2017 in a manner that is transparent and consultative,” Legarda said.