Upscaling capabilities, health, food security and infrastructure are among the government’s top spending priorities for next year’s planned P4.33-trillion national budget, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Wednesday.
During the Pre-State of the Nation Address forum, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said the 2021 outlay would prioritize upscaling the capability of the government and Filipinos to transition to a digital economy.
“The only way for us to boost our economy is to go digital. That is why for next year, the government plans to fast-track programs that will promote [the] digitalization of the economy, the health sector, the government and social assistance, among others,” he explained.
For instance, the Budget chief said, there will be a budget for distance-learning systems, the procurement of telemedicine kits and the conduct of capability-building and continuous learning programs that include using electronic-learning platforms and digital upscaling.
Avisado also the budget for the Philippine identification system would be increased to speed up its implementation.
Budget Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo said the national budget would also focus on the health sector by establishing more health facilities and purchasing necessary hospital equipment, test kits and a coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine.
The government will also earmark funds for food security “to ensure [the] unhampered movement of agricultural goods and services through [an] efficient transport and logistics system, and also to intensify provision of farm machineries and equipment to farmers [and] agriculture based-enterprises for their modernization,” he added.
According to Toledo, the government has no plan to abandon infrastructure development, as next year’s budget included the implementation of “shovel-ready” projects under the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build program, focusing on health-related facilities, digital infrastructure, constructing and enhancing logistics, and road projects.
There is also a need to promote industry and livelihood programs, which will basically assist micro, small and medium enterprises, he said.
The programmed P4.33-trillion total cash-based budget for 2021 is 5.7 percent greater than this year’s P4.10-trillion budget.
The total disbursement program for 2021 was set at P4.35 trillion, 4.4 percent or P182.3 billion higher than this year’s P4.17 trillion.
“The goal of the 2021 budget is to save lives and protect communities while making the different sectors of the economy stronger and more agile,” the Budget department said earlier.