President Rodrigo Roa Duterte today signed into law the PhP4.506 trillion Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which is the third full cash budget of the Duterte Administration and serves as the government’s financial blueprint to recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The PhP4.506 trillion budget, which is equivalent to 21.8 percent of gross domestic product, is the country’s largest to date, larger by 10 percent than the FY 2020 budget.
Carrying the theme “Reset, Rebound, and Recover: Investing for Resiliency and Sustainability”,the FY 2021 national budget will help the nation reset by addressing the pandemic, rebound by boosting infrastructure development and by generating job opportunities, and rebuild by assisting communities adapt to the post-pandemic life.
The social services sector accounts for the largest bulk of the FY 2021 budget, with PhP1,668.0 billion, equivalent to 37.0 percent of the national budget. The economic services sector, which includes the Administration’s flagship Build, Build, Buildprogram, will receive the second highest allocation with PhP1,323.1 billion or 29.4 percent of the budget. Meanwhile, the General Public Services sector will be allocated with PhP747.8 billion (16.6 percent), Debt Burden with PhP560.2 billion (12.4 percent), and Defense with PhP206.8 billion (4.6 percent).
Top 10 Departments
Consistent with the provisions of the Constitution, the education sector shall continue to receive the largest portion of the national budget to the tune of PhP751.7 billion, or 16.7 percent of the FY 2021 budget. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will follow suit with PhP695.7 billion (15.4 percent) and PhP249.3 billion (5.5 percent), respectively. The Department of Health (DOH), being the primary government arm in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, will receive PhP210.2 billion which is 19.6 percent higher than its FY 2020 budget. This is followed by the Department of National Defense (DND) with PhP205.8 billion, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with PhP176.9 billion, Department of Transportation (DOTr) with PhP87.9 billion, Department of Agriculture (DA) with PhP71.0 billion, The Judiciary with PhP45.3 billion, and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) with PhP37.1 billion.
Banner Programs and Projects for FY 2021
Reset: Addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic
The FY 2021 GAA will prioritize health-related COVID-19 response programs to address the continuing threat of the pandemic.
To achieve the mission in providing health care for all, budgetary support is provided for the National Health Insurance Program (PhP71.4 billion) to subsidize the health insurance premiums of thirteen (13) million indigent families and seven (7) million senior citizens. Meanwhile, the Human Resources for Health Program is allotted PhP16.6 billion for the deployment of doctors, nurses and other health workers to disadvantaged communities and national hospitals.
To ensure the safety of our health workers, PhP4.7 billion is allocated for the procurement of more than two (2) million sets of personal protective equipment for hospitals, laboratories and regional swab centers. An additional budget of PhP1.0 billion is appropriated for the procurement of 861,720 GeneExpert cartridges to supplement the fast and accurate testing of COVID-19 cases. Around PhP7.8 billion is allocated for the repair, upgrading, completion, and new construction of Barangay Health Stations, Rural Health Units, and Polyclinics; upgrading of hospital equipment, laboratories and quarantine facilities in different regions; provision of medical transport in different regions; and monitoring of Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) projects.
Some PhP283 million is also allotted for the establishment of the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines which aims to undertake studies on novel, emerging and re-emerging viruses. To improve health data systems, PhP51.56 million is allotted for disease surveillance and monitoring of COVID-19 and other similar respiratory infections.
More importantly, some PhP2.5 billion is allocated under the DOH budget and a further PhP70.0 billion is provided under the FY 2021 Unprogrammed Appropriations for COVID-19 vaccine procurement and logistics. Unprogrammed Appropriations may be tapped when any of the following exists: (1) excess revenue collections; (2) new revenue sources; and (3) approved loans for foreign-assisted projects.
Rebound: Reviving Infrastructure Development
Meanwhile, the FY 2021 will also stimulate economic rebound through the revival of infrastructure development, mainly through the Build, Build, Build Program which is expected to generate 1.1 million direct and indirect jobs and catalyze business activities all over the country.
For infrastructure projects under the DPWH, some PhP317.7 billion will be implemented for its core programs, particularly, the Asset Preservation Program (PhP66.0 billion), Network Development Program (PhP124.5 billion), Bridge Program (Ph25.4 billion) and Flood Management Program (PhP101.8 billion). Funding support for the DOTr’s Rail Transport Program (PhP47.7 billion), Land Public Transportation Program (PhP12.64 billion), and Maritime Infrastructure Program (PhP562.41 million) is also provided next year.
Recover: Adapting to the New Normal
The FY 2021 budget shall also prioritize the transition and adaptation of various sectors to the new normal. For the education sector, the priorities of the Administration have been reshaped to adopt flexible and blended learning options. Hence, PhP17.02 billion billion is allotted for the implementation of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Program (BE-LCP) to include the development, reproduction and delivery of learning resources while PhP5.9 billion is allotted for the expansion of DepEd’s Computerization Program which aims to procure multimedia packages for public schools nationwide.
The national budget next year will also prioritize government programs that help improve the productivity of the agriculture and fishery sector such as the irrigation services activities of the National Irrigation Authority (PhP31.7 billion), the National Rice Program (PhP15.5 billion), the National Fisheries Program (PhP3.9 billion) and the Rice Competitive Enhancement Program (PhP10.0 billion).
To help local businesses and MSMEs recover, PhP20.4 billion is allotted for the DOLE’s Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program which will cater to displaced formal and informal workers, while some PhP2.4 billion is provided for the DTI’s MSME Development Program. Moreover, the Training for Work Scholarship Program (PhP4.1 billion) and the Tulong Trabaho Scholarship Program (PhP1.0 billion) will also be prioritized to promote digital upskilling and retraining of workers.
The government will continue to aid vulnerable groups by funding programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (PhP106.8 billion), Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens (PhP23.5 billion), Sustainable Livelihood Program (PhP4.3 billion) and the Supplementary Feeding Program (PhP3.8 billion), among many others.
PhP4.3 billion shall also be provided for the implementation of and registration to the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys). This will be complemented at the local level through the Community Based Monitoring System, with a budget allocation of PhP85.0 million, which will assist the Local Government Units in improving their local residence registries.
The FY 2021 budget serves as the heftiest stimulus package for the economy, thus enabling public spending to stimulate economic recovery. It is based on the sound fiscal policy of spending within means, on the right priorities, and with measurable results under a regime of a transparent, accountable, and participatory governance.
The passage of the FY 2021 General Appropriations Bill in Congress was led by Eric Go Yap House Committee on Appropriations Chairperson Representative and Senate Committee on Finance Chairperson Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara.