The Philippine National Budget – A PhilPay feature

The 2015 allocated National Budget amounted to a total of P2,606 trillion.

There are 81 provinces to provide for in the Philippine islands that are spread over a distance of 2000 kilometers from north to south and 1000 more from west to east. Besides the money distributed to run all the various government departments, the largest single allocation was the P829 billion for supporting public works and communication infrastructure. The country is very dependent on improving the road systems, the airports, and the ports to benefit marketing of products. The government is increasingly conscious of honing in on improvements linking up tourism destinations throughout the country in order to attract tourists who are a rapidly growing and considerable revenue stream.

The budget has become considerably more aware of the focus on programs and projects that reduce poverty, support the creation of more jobs and livelihood opportunities, and which invest in climate change adaptations and disaster risk mitigation.

The foundation of basic education is a continuing priority, even more so considering the recent introduction of the 12-year program from the previous 10-year system.

  • 9 billion was allocated for the construction of some 31,728 classrooms nationwide and to provide for and repair other educational facilities.
  • P10 billion was the figure set to enable the offer of another 39,066 teaching positions together with 1,500 additional supporting staff.
  • 5 billion for the purchase of 70.5 million educational textbooks and other instructional materials.

Social security is a prime priority aimed at reducing and attempting to eradicate chronic and multi-generational poverty, with P62.3 billion made available to cover some 4.3 million poor families.

Alongside this priority lies universal healthcare with P37.2 billion given to cover 15.4 million poor families.

Technical and vocational education prepares people for the ever changing job markets, and P2 billion was set aside to benefit an estimated 210,526 job seekers in the rapidly upcoming industries like Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), the call centre industry, as well as in the semi-conductor and electronic industries, alongside tourism and other areas.

Agriculture is a foundation stone in many parts of the country, and bolstering and diversifying market-orientated high-value crop and livestock production is highly sought after, with P8.9 billion made available to the farming and supportive communities. This includes building strategic infrastructure connecting towns and linking farms so as to improve product access to markets. The infrastructure investments in this sector are equivalent to 4% of the GDP.

Climate control adaptation and mitigation has become a front runner in considerations for allocating funds from the National Budget, with the experience of the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda (2013) a major indicator of things yet to come. Flood control preparedness and prevention funds were set at P47.9 billion in 2015. In addition, P21.7 billion was the amount allowed for rebuilding purposes for when calamities had already struck.

Overall, the priorities are clearly education, healthcare, social protection, and economic services in order to support growth and job generation in several key industries. A major focus has been on servicing the needs of the 44 poorest and most climatically vulnerable provinces within the country. Alongside this, recent government spending has been well within their means, which has also lessened the cost of servicing debt, allowing more cash to be freely distributed where it is most needed.

A refreshing philosophy based on government transparency, accountability and participation has been broadening the foundations of applying the National Budget as the economy has been visibly strengthening and growing over recent years.

The Philippines is currently 47th of 140 competitive economies as set by the World Economic Forum using their Global Competitiveness Index. The Philippines is also the most inspired economy in terms of competitiveness rankings both in the ASEAN region and the world as a whole, as it has moved up 38 spots in five years from number 85 in 2010 to the current standing today. The 12 pillars of competitiveness are based on 114 indicators that drive productivity.

One arena that affects the Philippine economy very significantly is the employment of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). There are an estimated 10 million Filipinos working throughout the world, with the commercial shipping industry alone depending on Filipino seafarers that make up to 20% of the crew capacity manning international shipping. These workers send back to the country billions of US dollars annually, with some US$25 billion expected by the end of 2015. This direct input significantly boosts the home economy, where the booming call centre and BPO industries are now based in over 20 towns and employ over 1 million Filipinos.

The new contract that the Philippines now has with the European Union saw exports from this country grow by 23% in the first 6 months of 2015.

On the back of all these booming economic statistics that throw a shining light on the Philippines, it is the supportive role of the National Budget that is allowing the economy to show growth and strong foundations that will see the country rise still further in the years ahead.

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