(UPDATE) PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has signed into law the P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023, the first full-year outlay under his administration.
Marcos signed the 2023 General Appropriations Act (GAA) in a ceremony in Malacañang, which was witnessed by Vice President Sara Duterte, some Cabinet officials and members of Congress led by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Martin Romualdez.
In his remarks, the President said the passage of the spending measure was among the fastest in recent years.
“This is a fine Christmas gift as can be received by any president from his legislature,” he said.
The President said the budget “defines and gives muscle to the roadmap of what we intend to do next year.”
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“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,” he said.
The President lauded Congress for being “very cooperative in making what amendments are necessary in investments, financial policies, all of these elements that are important for us to position ourselves in the new economy after the pandemic.”
The GAA was signed less than two weeks after Congress ratified the Marcos administration’s first spending plan.
It is 4.9 percent bigger than this year’s budget.
The budget was criticized by opposition lawmakers for allocating confidential and intelligence funds, including those for Duterte and the Department of Education, which the vice president also heads.
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman earlier said the 2023 budget supports the Marcos administration’s eight-point Socioeconomic Agenda and the Medium Term Fiscal Framework.
“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.
Romualdez said the spending law will help the administration implement its agenda for prosperity to sustain growth, spur economic activity and jobs, and increase the people’s income.
Rep. Bernadette Herrera (Bagong Henerasyon party-list) lauded the President’s timely approval of the GAA.
Herrera said the budget “is a strong way forward for the country as we begin a journey of recovery from global economic effects caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently, the Russia-Ukraine crisis.”
“The bicameral conference committee did a good job in harmonizing the conflicting provisions in the Senate and House versions in an expeditious and thorough manner, thus ruling out a reenacted budget that could derail our economic recovery,” Herrera said.
Senate Committee on Finance Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said Congress worked hard to ensure the budget measure is signed within the year so that the delivery of public service is 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.