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A Conversation with Finance and Budget Secretaries
on Financing Sustained Economic Growth
August 19, 2023, 4:00 PM
UPSE Auditorium
Speaking Time: 11 minutes



A pleasant afternoon to all.

Assalamu alaikum wa Raḥmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

First, I would like to thank the UP School of Economics (UPSE) for this invitation with my former professor, my mentor, and someone whom I am now honored to call my colleague in the Cabinet, Department of Finance, the head of the Economic Team, Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno—who will forever be my professor.

Thank you also to our dear participants for being present today, especially the alumni of the UPSE Program on Development Economics. It certainly feels good to be back in the halls of this institution that rigorously trained us to be prime movers and leaders in our field. And, of course, special shoutout to our batch, Batch 33 of PDE.

Indeed, UPSE prepared me for the work in the Senate, in the Executive, and even in Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. And I am grateful for this privilege to present to you today our country’s socioeconomic agenda and reforms toward transformative governance.

Socioeconomic Agenda

To ensure that we do not neglect socioeconomic objectives even as we achieve high-growth performance, our Fiscal Year 2023 National Budget, amounting to Php 5.268 trillion, has been aligned with the 8-point Socioeconomic Agenda and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023 to 2028.

Thus, the Social Services sector—comprising Education and Health—has been given the highest budget allocation with Php 2.0 trillion or roughly 38.0 percent of the 2023 budget, while the Economic Services sector has been given the second highest share with Php 1.62 trillion or 30.8 percent of the total national budget.

This prioritization remains the same for the proposed FY 2024 National Budget, now amounting to Php 5.768 trillion, attesting to the current Administration’s resolve to reduce poverty, boost infrastructure, reinforce human capital development, and attain upper middle-income status by 2025.

Infrastructure Development

We have allocated Php 1.3 trillion in the 2023 National Budget to sustain the momentum of the public infrastructure boom through the Build-Better-More Program. In line with the MTFF, the infrastructure disbursements will be maintained between 5.0 to 6.0 percent of the GDP in the medium term, reaching Php 2.3 trillion by 2028.

The bulk of the infrastructure budget is intended for the development of physical connectivity infrastructure. This includes Php 478.7 billion for roads, Php 283.2 billion for flood control projects, Php 164.1 billion for local infrastructure development, and some Php 40.1 billion for railways this year.

For social infrastructure development, some Php 29.2 billion has been allocated for school buildings, Php 16.7 billion for water supply systems, and Php 14.4 billion for hospital and health centers. Meanwhile, some Php 3.7 billion has been allotted for power supply systems, Php 2.5 billion for housing and community facilities, and some Php 30.1 billion for irrigation systems.

We are also keen on improving our digital infrastructure. Hence, to continue harnessing the potential of a digital economy and achieve universal connectivity, we have allocated Php 24.13 billion for the digital transformation of the bureaucracy and the country.

Finally, in line with our commitment to sustainability and in response to the growing demand for green investments, we have in the pipeline infrastructure investment opportunities that align with internationally accepted definitions of green investments.

Alternative Financing Strategy

To help finance all these, the Economic Team will tap Public-Private Partnerships or PPPs. We recognize the important contributions of the private sector not only in bridging the infrastructure gap but also in implementing and innovating climate change solutions. And so, we are working on the provision of legal and regulatory support to PPPs and the development of local PPP projects in priority sectors. And incidentally, the head of the PPP Center is our batchmate—Ms. Cynthia Hernandez.

In addition, we pushed for the recent passage of the Philippines' very first sovereign development fund to promote fiscal stability through strategic and profitable investments in key sectors and augment the government’s limited fiscal space to fund its programs and projects.

DBM Reforms


At the Department of Budget and Management, we are also doing our part in achieving the transformation toward a more transparent, efficient, and responsive government which are crucial aspects of sustaining our economic growth.

Through our Digital Transformation Roadmap, we are promoting data governance and digitalization in fiscal-related government processes. This is why digital transformation is at the core of our Public Financial Management (PFM) Reform Agenda.

In constant pursuit of bureaucratic efficiency and fiscal transparency, the President issued Executive Order No. 29 directing the full adoption and implementation of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) in the processing of government financial transactions.

The Executive Order directs the PFM Committee, which consists of the DBM, together with the DOF, the Commission on Audit (COA), and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), to conduct a review and reengineering of the key PFM processes including budget management and execution, cash management, and accounting and reporting.

We will also develop a PFM Reforms Roadmap to expedite the development of IFMIS while ensuring harmonization of policies across oversight agencies.

And in line with our PFM Reforms, we are also presenting to the President on Tuesday our proposed amendments to the decades-old Government Procurement Reform Act authored by the late Senate President Edgardo J. Angara.

I am also delighted to share that we have taken great strides toward open governance in the country with the signing of Executive Order No. 31 institutionalizing the Philippine Open Government Partnership or the PH-OGP.

Over a decade since the Philippines became a founding member of the Open Government Partnership, it was only institutionalized this year—a testament to this Administration’s commitment to promoting transparency, strengthening social accountability, and empowering Filipinos through public participation.

With all these developments, I hope you can see that our government is working, and more importantly, the Philippine Economic Team—all from UP—is working very hard.

More than the good news of our credit ratings, the S&P Global Market Intelligence forecast has declared that the Philippines is on its way to becoming a one-trillion-dollar economy by 2033. AND no less than the World Bank declared that the Philippines will achieve above-middle-income status in the next two years. So, there are a lot of things to be thankful for.

Now, we are not oblivious to the challenges that we have, and we are well aware that we still have a long way to go to achieve our dream of prosperity for all. But given that the economic team—again all from UP—I am confident that we will achieve our Agenda for Prosperity. Our economic transformation has already begun and I have no doubt that we WILL secure a future-proof and sustainable economy. Inshallah.

Thank you very much. Mabuhay po tayong lahat at padayon!

Wasalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.