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For the first six months of the Duterte administration – July to December, 2016 – the national government will be operating under the 2016 National Budget presented by the Aquino administration and approved by Congress. There is not much the new administration can do about funding for its programs and projects this year.
But for 2017, it will be a different story. Possibly the biggest change, appropriation-wise, will be in the budget for infrastructures. For 2017, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in a briefing last week, the administration is proposing P890.9 billion for infrastructures. This is 41 percent more than the P631 billion in the present 2016 national budget.
The infrastructure funding will be for highways, bridges, seaports, and airports. It will include school buildings for which R118 billion will be proposed – 44 percent more than in the 2016 budget. Despite the laudable efforts of the previous administration, it was never able to provide all the school buildings needed by the nation’s school children due to the annual increase in population.
But the huge increase in infrastructure spending in 2017 will have its greatest impact on the employment situation in the country and, therefore, on the problem of mass poverty. The building of all the new highways, bridges, ports, and schools will mean employment for millions of jobless Filipinos. It will lead to the rise of side economic activities – in construction supplies, transportation, food services, etc.
The budget for 2017 will include increased amounts for other areas of the national life that have long suffered from neglect. It should provide similarly substantial increases for agriculture, which will benefit the biggest part of the Philippine population while providing greater food security for the nation as a whole.
The total national budget now being considered by the Duterte administration, Secretary Diokno said is about P3.35 trillion, 11.6 percent more than the 2016 budget of P3.002 trillion. With a great part of that going to infrastructure and other economic development projects, we should see tremendous changes in the life of the people before the first year of the administration is over.
Today, big changes are taking place in governance, particularly in peace and order, ending the widespread drug problem, and suppressing crime in general. President Duterte gave himself six months to accomplish this and, at the rate he is going, he is likely to succeed. After these first six months, we should also begin to see major changes in the economic life of the country, funded by the huge budget increases for infrastructure and other economic activities.