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Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) Dubai
September 12, 2023
Speaking Time: 8 minutes

PEB 2023


Members of the economic team, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: 

Assalamu alaikum wa Raḥmatullahi wa Barakatuh. 

First, I would like to thank the Philippine Embassy and our partner banks and institutions for giving us this opportunity to share the latest developments in the country's economic performance and investment opportunities, and on our end at the Department of Budget and Management, to highlight our Priority Expenditures.

To give you an overview, the National Budget of the Philippines for Fiscal Year 2023 amounts to Php 5.268 trillion or USD 94.1 billion. It is higher by 4.9 percent than our budget in 2022 and is equivalent to 21.9 percent of our GDP. 

We want to ensure that our economic transformation is inclusive. Hence, the highest budget allocation has been provided for the Social Services sector—comprising Education and Health—equivalent to USD 35.7 billion or roughly 38.0 percent of our national budget. 

In the Philippines, no less than the Constitution mandates that Education be given the highest budgetary priority. Hence, we have allocated USD 16.0 billion for Education.

While we maintain Social Services as a top priority, we are also committed to our Medium-Term Fiscal Framework. Hence, the Economic Services sector has been given the second highest share in the budget with USD 28.9 billion or 30.8 percent of the General Appropriations Act of 2023. 

We have also embarked on an ambitious infrastructure development program called the Build-Better-More that aims to maintain infrastructure spending at 5 to 6 percent of GDP. For 2023 alone, we allocated USD 23.7 billion or roughly 25.0  percent of the national budget and is equivalent to 5.3 percent of GDP.

The bulk of this infrastructure budget is intended for the development of physical infrastructure aimed at improving physical connectivity throughout the country. Significant budgetary support was also provided for social infrastructure, which includes the construction of school buildings, hospitals, water and power supply systems, as well as housing and community facilities. To ensure that the Philippines becomes a viable investment destination, we are keen on improving our digital infrastructure. Some USD 445.0 million was allocated to accelerate the country’s digital transformation.  

Amidst all this, we want our economic growth to be sustainable. Hence, climate actions have been mainstreamed and institutionalized in our development plan and the National Budget. This resulted in a significant increase in the budget for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures by about 60 percent compared to the previous year’s allocation.

We also want to ensure inclusivity and are keen to uplift Muslim Mindanao. A total of USD 1.33 billion has therefore been allocated for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM, as its government undergoes transition until 2025.

Looking ahead, the National Budget for Fiscal Year 2024, which is already undergoing congressional scrutiny as we speak, will prioritize shovel-ready projects, investments in human capital development, sustainable agriculture and food security, and climate change adaptation and mitigation, among others. This will guarantee the continuity of gains from this year’s priority programs and contribute to securing a future-proof and sustainable economy.

Towards this end, some USD 9.69 billion has been earmarked for our FY 2024 proposed budget for climate expenditures. This will prioritize funding for Water Sufficiency projects, Sustainable Energy, Food Security, Knowledge and Capacity Development, and Climate-Smart Industries and Services.  

Towards expanding our fiscal space and meeting our fiscal targets, we have initiated a couple of reforms. 

Last June, the President issued Executive Order No. 29 directing the full adoption of the Integrated Financial Management Information System in government agencies to ensure the efficient delivery of quality services to the public. 

We also hope to soon pass the Progressive Budgeting for Better and Modernized Governance Bill, which will institutionalize Public Financial Management reforms such as the Cash Budgeting System and further strengthen our efforts toward enhanced bureaucratic efficiency.

We are also overhauling our 20-year-old procurement law, which will ensure equal access to information at all stages of the procurement process. And, for sustainability, we are pursuing a Green Public Procurement Roadmap wherein the government will procure common-use supplies and equipment items with green specifications.

Moreover, we have also secured a momentous win for open governance in the country with the signing of Executive Order No. 31 institutionalizing the Philippine Open Government Partnership or the PH-OGP. In fact, before flying here, I was just in Tallinn, Estonia for the Open Government Partnership Global Summit where we presented the Philippines' reforms towards open government such as open contracting and the digitalization of the bureaucracy.
Finally, we have our very first Sovereign Development Fund, which is envisioned for the Philippines' economic development through strategic and profitable investments in infrastructure and other key sectors.

As you can see, we are working very hard to make the Philippines a top investment destination and uplift the lives of our people and future generations. The United Arab Emirates is very special to us. You have been so generous to our country over the decades. You provided humanitarian assistance during the Typhoon Haiyan, in 2020 when the Taal Volcano erupted, and some RT-PCRs during the Pandemic. This time, please be with us not just in crises or disasters, but in our economic growth journey. We invite you to be our partner in prosperity and we will make sure that your time and experience will be worthwhile.

Thank you very much.

Maraming salamat po at Mabuhay.

Wabillahi Tawfiq Wal Hidaya, Wasalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.