Cabinet tackles 2013 budget; to break P2-T level for first timeBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The proposed 2013 national budget is expected to break the P2-trillion level for the first time and would reflect the administration’s priority programs on social services, health, education, poverty alleviation and infrastructure.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the proposed budget was the main topic in Friday’s Cabinet meeting, the 12th under the Aquino administration.
“The proposed budget stands at P2.006 trillion. That is still not final [and] subject to observations during the Cabinet meeting,” Valte said, adding that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was expected to give a presentation of each department’s budget, with President Aquino asking details on figures and computations on the projects involved and suggesting changes.
State of the nation
Valte said the administration expects to submit the national expenditure program to Congress on July 24, a day after the President delivers his State of the Nation Address before a joint session of the legislature.
Several Cabinet members, who are abroad on official business, could not make it to the meeting, Valte said. They included housing czar Vice President Jejomar Binay, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.
In a news briefing earlier in June, Abad said the 2013 budget would be funded “for the most part” through tax revenues. He added that the proposed budget had yet to take into account the passage of the bill on increased sin taxes and the rationalization of fiscal incentives that are expected to bring in additional revenues of up to P50 billion.
The budget secretary said most of the funds would go to infrastructure and social services.
“We intend to propose to the President a higher level of spending on infrastructure since we are committed to finishing the construction of national arterial roads by the end of 2014, as well as closing the classroom gap of 65,000 by the end of 2013 and achieving rice self-sufficiency by end of 2013,” Abad was quoted as saying.
“We have to build more roads that lead to tourism zones as well as arterial farm to market roads that lead to production zones,” he added.
Hike in CCT
Abad said the government also plans to increase the budget for the conditional cash transfer program by P40 billion next year to accommodate half a million more poor families. The program is expected to benefit three million families by the end of 2012.
The next Cabinet meeting, Valte said, would be next week, with the National Tourism Development Plan on the agenda.