By Filane Mikee Cervantes

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signs the PHP5.268 trillion national budget for 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Speaker Martin Romualdez)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday signed into law the PHP5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 that is geared towards achieving post-pandemic economic recovery.

Marcos signed the 2023 General Appropriations Act in a ceremony in Malacañan Palace, witnessed by congressional leaders including Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Martin Romualdez, as well as Vice President Sara Z. Duterte.

The Marcos administration’s first spending measure is 4.9 percent higher or PHP244.4 billion more than this year’s budget of PHP5.023 trillion and puts top priority on education, infrastructure development, health, agriculture, and social safety nets.

In his speech during the ceremonial signing, Marcos said its passage is essential because it will serve as a roadmap of what the government intends to do next year.

“And to see the rapidity of the passage is significant because it means that this budget, the roadmap that we have proposed from the Executive, is fully supported by our legislature. And that is very, very important indeed,” Marcos said. “Because it is what is essentially or sometimes regarded as a long, difficult, long-drawn-out process… shown to still be able to express that kind of support, that kind of solidarity with the Executive.”

He also noted that the signing into law of the General Appropriations Act is important because it will provide the government with a tool to transform the economy, as well as in carrying the needed structural changes toward realizing the administration’s goals.

“It is always very important that the GAA has been put together in consonance with all of the plans of the Executive. And that kind of coordination and that kind of synergy that we will gain from that is going to be an essential part of the way that we move forward,” Marcos said.

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman earlier underscored that the 2023 budget was crafted in support of the administration’s 8-point Socioeconomic Agenda and the Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF).

Anchored on the theme, “Agenda for Prosperity: Economic Transformation Towards Inclusivity and Sustainability,” the proposed budget seeks to address the immediate and pressing concerns of all Filipinos in the near- and medium-term.

“The administration’s first full-year budget shall serve as a springboard for the economy’s full-speed recovery and meaningful structural reform,” Pangandaman said.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, in a statement, said the newly-signed law will help the administration implement its Agenda for Prosperity to sustain growth, generate economic activities and jobs, and increase the income for Filipinos.

“It is the most important and potent tool the President, his economic team and the entire government can use to accomplish the goals of the prosperity roadmap,” Romualdez said.

He said the House of Representatives and the Senate deliberated on and approved the President’s first full-year budget proposal “in record time.”

“As far as I can remember, the 2023 budget is one of the few spending bills signed into law in mid-December, way before the start of its implementation on New Year’s Day,” he added.

Meanwhile, Senate Committee on Finance Chairperson Sonny Angara said Congress worked hard to ensure the budget measure is signed within the year so that the delivery of public service would be uninterrupted.

“While there were disagreements on some issues during the bicameral conference committee meetings, both panels found common ground in the need to ensure that assistance is given to those who require it the most and to keep the momentum going in the country’s move towards economic recovery,” Angara said.

“As stated by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., this budget is anchored on an agenda for prosperity. We are no longer at a point where we are catching up and reacting to the developments just like the past two years. Now we can lay the foundation for the country to build on towards sustaining economic growth and providing more opportunities for our people,” he added. (PNA)