THE DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management (DBM) expects the early approval and signing of the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP), its top official said.
“We’re happy that we are now in the final stages of the preparation. We had a meeting yesterday morning with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. We showed the budget to him already. The same will be presented to the Cabinet tomorrow afternoon for their final approval,” Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum on Wednesday.
“Once approved by the Cabinet, we will already start with the printing of NEP until maybe the State of the Nation Address (SONA),” she said.
Ms. Pangandaman said that the NEP will likely be submitted to Congress a week after Mr. Marcos’ second SONA, which is scheduled on July 24. Under the Constitution, the NEP must be submitted to Congress within 30 days after the SONA.
The NEP is the National Government’s spending plan and details its programs for the next fiscal year. Once passed into law, the bill will be known as the General Appropriations Act.
“I’m hoping that (the signing) should be faster. Last year, when we submitted the NEP, it was one week before the deadline. Now, just a week after SONA, we are planning to submit,” Ms. Pangandaman said.
The 2023 budget was signed by Mr. Marcos in December — “the fastest and earliest” that a national budget was signed, according to the DBM.
The proposed 2024 national budget is set at PHP 5.768 trillion, up by 9.5% from this year’s PHP 5.268-trillion budget.
Next year’s budget will continue to prioritize education, infrastructure, health, and agriculture, among others.
“The President gave instructions to also provide for livelihood programs. While we will still not decrease or limit the cash transfer program, because we know sectors still need that, as we exit from the pandemic, it would be good to utilize livelihood programs so they can work and become more productive,” Ms. Pangandaman added.
The 2024 budget will also prioritize “implementation-ready” projects.
Ms. Pangandaman also said that the government is working on trimming its unprogrammed appropriations.
“Unprogrammed appropriations are at 7-9% of the budget this year. When we met with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), they have studies from different countries where unprogrammed appropriations or standby funds should only be at least 5% of the total budget. Hopefully, even with tight fiscal space, we can adhere to that,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Pangandaman said that the government is working with other sovereign wealth funds to create the structure of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).
During the Philippine economic briefing in Singapore last week, Ms. Pangandaman said the economic team met with Temasek and GIC to discuss the MIF.
“We did benchmarking. When you create a sovereign wealth fund, there’s the structure, the kind of people to hire. The commitment they had is they will help us in some sort of technical assistance to create the structure of the fund,” she said.
Ms. Pangandaman said that the bill creating the MIF is for enrollment and will be sent to the Palace for Mr. Marcos’ signature.
Last month, Congress approved the bill creating the country’s first sovereign wealth fund. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson