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Philippine Dialogue in Doha
September 10, 2023

DOHA 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.

Today, we bring you warm greetings and good news from the Philippines: Despite global headwinds and the challenges of post-pandemic economic recovery, we are on track with our Agenda for Prosperity, Inshallah.
Bearing in mind inclusivity and sustainability, our priority expenditures have therefore been aligned with the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda in the near term and cater to the objectives under the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028.

To give you an overview, our 2023 National Budget is Php 5.268 trillion or USD 94.1 billion, which is 4.9 percent higher than our 2022 level and is above 20 percent of our GDP. 

And we want to ensure that our economic transformation is inclusive. Hence, the highest budgetary allocation has been provided for the Social Services sector 38.1 percent of the 2023 budget. It comprises education and health which is equivalent to USD 35.7 billion.

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 which targets a growth rate of 6.5 to 8.0 percent from 2023 to 2028 so that the Philippines can reach upper-middle-income status and we can bring down poverty levels to single-digit within our term. 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 total National Budget. 

We have 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 Fiscal Year 2023, we allocated USD 23.7 billion or 25.3 percent of the national budget and 5.3 percent of GDP for infrastructure projects.

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 development, which includes the construction of school buildings, hospitals, water and power supply systems, as well as housing and community facilities. And, to ensure that the Philippines becomes a viable investment destination, we are keen on improving our digital infrastructure. Some budget has been provided as well 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 1.34 billion has therefore been allocated for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM, as its government undergoes transition until 2025. This is pursuant to the Bangsamoro Organic Law, passed in 2018, which aims to promote sustainable peace and prosperity in Muslim Mindanao.

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 9.78 billion has been earmarked for our FY 2024 climate expenditures. This will prioritize funding for Water Sufficiency projects, followed by Sustainable Energy, Food Security, Knowledge and Capacity Development, and Climate-Smart Industries and Services.  

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.

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 we 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. So we invite you to please invest in our beautiful country—and if I may borrow a brilliant line—come and experience a world the Philippines.

Thank you very much.

Maraming salamat po at Mabuhay.

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