MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Do you know where your taxes go?
The first national budget drafted completely by the Duterte administration amounting to P3.767 trillion ($74.79 billion) for 2018 is 12.4% higher than 2016. The figure represents 21.6% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) for 2018.
The 2018 national budget also reveals the priorities of the Duterte administration – infrastructure, education, and the interior affairs sectors gained the most.
After a threat of a reenacted budget, the bicameral conference committee on the 2018 national budget finally agreed to the government's financial plan for next year. President Rodrigo Duterte signed it into law on Tuesday, December 19. (READ: Alvarez to Senate: Restore P50B or we have reenacted budget for 2018)
What's in the 2018 national budget? The spreadsheet below compares it with 2017:
The report by the bicameral conference committee on the 2018 national budget showed that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) received the lion's share of funds at P637.86 billion ($12.66 billion) for 2017. (READ: Congress ratifies P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018)
The funds will be used to sustain the government's infrastructure program "Build, Build, Build" in improving mobility across the country.
The Department of Education (DepEd) received the next highest allocation at P553.31 billion ($10.99 billion). These will be used in establishing and maintaining facilities; hiring teaching and non-teaching personnel; and in developing and providing learning materials to students. (READ: FAST FACTS: What you need to know about the PH education system)
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) received an allocation of P170.76 billion ($3.39 billion) for 2018.
DILG funds will be used for improved police operations with some P334 million ($6.63 million) allocated for the purchase of body cameras for the Philippine National Police and an additional P850 million ($16.88 million) for maintenance and other operating expenses of police stations.
The chart below ranks the top 15 government agencies with the highest budget allocation in 2018:
Generally, most government agencies received higher budgetary allocations for the coming year with the DPWH gaining the most at P183.14 billion ($3.64 billion) or a 40.28% increase from last year's budget.
Of the government offices, the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) budget grew 5 times at P12.81 billion ($254 million) – or a 411.13% increase from last year's P3.12 billion ($61.96 million) budget – apparently in preparation for the upcoming midterm elections in 2019.
The Other Executive Offices group also received a notable increase at 72.26% or P31.36 billion ($622.77 million), having a total budget of P74.76 billion ($1.48 billion) for 2018.
Funds under the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) increased 68.9% at P3.64 billion ($72.28 million). The bulk of NEDA's P8.93 billion budget will be used for its socio-economic policy and planning program, according to the 2018 National Expenditure Program (NEP).
Only 6 government agencies received cuts from their funding next year – the biggest of which is the Office of the President (OP), leaving a P14.14 billion ($280.08 million) decrease from the 2017 budget of P20.17 billion ($400.53 million).
The OP's 2017 budget included some P15.46 billion ($306.95 million) for the hosting of the 50th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and related ASEAN Summits. Sans the hosting expenses, OP's 2018 allocation is at P6.03 billion ($119.72 million). (READ: Are Duterte's multi-million-peso intel funds achieving their purpose?)
The Department of Finance (DOF) also received a decrease in funds at 10.15%, P2.18 billion ($43.28 million) lower than the 2017 allocation of P21.5 billion ($426.89 million). This leaves some P19.32 billion ($383.61 million) for the department next year.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) received a total of P695.5 million ($13.81 million) for 2018 – 4.05% or P29.36 million ($583,062) lower than its 2017 funds at P724.87 million ($14.4 million).
CHR's budget remains to be the second lowest among government offices since 2017, next to the Office of the Vice President's budget at P543.95 million ($10.8 million).
2018 national budget
Under the Philippine Constitution, the budgetary allocation for the education sector should be the highest priority. Article XIV, Section 5(5) states that:
"The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment."
This year, the allocation for the education department (P553.31 billion), the State and University Colleges (P62.12 billion), Commission on Higher Education (P49.43 billion), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (P7.46 billion) amount to P672.41 billion ($13.35 billion), excluding the automatic appropriations as listed in the bicam report.
This is some P31.79 billion ($631.25 million) shy of the combined P704.20-billion ($13.98 billion) budget of infrastructure departments DPWH and DOTr. (READ: Duterte's development plan: Recycled, failed economic policies)
The chart below shows each government office's share in the 2018 national budget, as well as in the 2017 and 2016 budgets:
In President Rodrigo Duterte's 2018 budget message last July, he said that some P1.097 trillion ($21.78 billion) – a third of next year's national budget – will be used for the government's "Build, Build, Build" program.
It is part of the projected P8.1 trillion ($16.08 billion) funds that will be used for infrastructure development from 2017 to 2022.
"Spending on infrasture is like opening a savings account in a bank – you earn interest. What we will earn as interest – or the overall returns – far exceeds the returns that can be provided by any other spending item, except for education and health," Duterte said in his budget message.
Given the ambitious fiscal plan for the coming year, will the government be able to deliver on its promises to the public? – Rappler.com
*$1 = P50.36