President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this week signed the ‘pandemic-era’ 2021 budget totaling P4.5 trillion.
Republic Act 11518 or the 2021 General Appropriations Act is meant to make sure that a repeat of last year’s budget which did not take into account disasters of great scale, such as the current Covid19 pandemic.
According to Malacañang, Duterte vetoed certain items from the budget, but did not reveal what these were.
Duterte also said that the new year’s budget would allow for the continuation of the government’s flagship “Build, Build, Build” program, which in turn, would provide for other government projects, such as social services programs.
He also said that P72.5 billion of the national budget was set aside for the Covid19 vaccines, which he described as among the “most important” items on the list.
However, the bulk of this amount is comprised mostly of unprogrammed allocations that depend on government revenue availability. The remaining P2.5 million is placed under the budget for the Department of Health.
This raised concerns, primarily from Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who said that there were no assurances that the government could fund the P70 billion, since these are highly dependent on excess tax collections. Senate finance committee chair Sen. Sonny Angara, however, said that the finance department was “confident” that there would be sufficient excess tax collections.
Included in the national budget are programs that target pandemic response: support for the education department’s distance learning program, assistance for indigent people and displaced workers, feeding programs and contact tracing efforts.
The budget also included P19.1 billion for the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).