By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman (File photo)

MANILA – Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman on Tuesday expressed confidence that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. would approve the ratified PHP5.768 trillion proposed national budget for 2024.

This came as Pangandaman thanked the Senate and the House of Representatives for the ratification of the 2024 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

“The swift ratification of our proposed 2024 budget is a testament to the commitment and strong support of our esteemed lawmakers to ensure the enactment of the 2024 national budget on time,” she said in a statement.

“We are grateful to the leadership and members of both the Senate and House of Representatives for this development as this will continue to boost our efforts in achieving our development agenda.”

The proposed 2024 national budget represents 21.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and reflects an increase of 9.5 percent compared to the PHP5.268 trillion national budget for 2023.

The 2024 GAB allocates the largest budget share to the social services sector, which encompasses health, education, culture, manpower development, as well as social security, welfare, and employment.

Pangandaman said the education sector would be given utmost priority, in accordance with the 1987 Constitution.

She emphasized that the huge chunk of the budget allocated for infrastructure spending is targeted to remain at 5 percent to 6 percent of the GDP over the medium term.

“Aligned with the directive of President Bongbong Marcos, we shall continue to support and sustain the momentum of the Build Better More Program, with a proposed allocation of PHP1.42 trillion, higher by 6.6 percent compared to this year,” she said.

Pangandaman expressed optimism that the ratified GAB would help the Marcos administration accomplish its 2022-2028 Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) and 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda.

She noted that the key MTFF targets that guided the legislative agenda include a 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent real GDP growth in 2022; a 6.5 percent to 8 percent real GDP growth annually between 2023 and 2028; a 9 percent poverty rate by 2028; and at least USD4,256 income per capita attainment of upper-middle-income status.

Meanwhile, the 8-point Socioeconomic Agenda focuses on food security, improved transport, affordable and clean energy, health care, social services, education, bureaucratic efficiency, and robust fiscal management.

The Senate and the House separately ratified on Monday the bicameral conference committee report reconciling the differences between their respective versions of the proposed 2024 budget.

With the ratification of the budget, the bill is scheduled for registration, printing, and subsequent transmission to the Office of the President.

Marcos will likely sign the 2024 GAB before he leaves for his Japan trip on Dec. 15, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said. (PNA)