Legarda: Senate to guarantee 2017 budget will be used for ‘real change’
Senator Loren Legarda on Wednesday vowed to scrutinize the proposed P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017 to ensure that it would be used “solely” for the needs of the people and the country’s growth.
Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on finance, also promised the timely passage of the budget bill, following its early turn-over to the chamber last Monday, August 15. “The Committee on Finance is all set for the budget deliberations. No time will be wasted to make sure that this will indeed be ‘a budget for real change’ as the Executive dubs it,” she said in a statement.
“It is our duty to ensure that the people’s money is judiciously used for the common good,” she added. Legarda also assured that the Senate deliberations on the budget will be “transparent and consultative.” “We shall scrutinize it to the extent that it will leave no suspicion that the resources of the country are used for any purpose but solely for the needs of every Filipino and the growth of the nation,” she said.
The senator noted a marked increase in the allocation for social services, which is 40% of the President’s budget. She cited in particular the allocation for social protection under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which shows that Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens will increase from P8.71B in 2016 to P17.94B in 2017. “This will now cover all indigent senior citizens,” said Legarda.
Meanwhile, the Conditional Cash Transfer program covering the same number of beneficiaries as last year, will increase from P62.67B in 2016 to P78.69B in 2017. This will include, she said, a new assistance in the form of rice allowance.
Aside from the marked increase on the budget for social services, Legarda also noted the “significant” rise in public spending in terms of infrastructure and the focus on education.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has the highest proposed allocation at P567.6 billion next year, which is 31% higher than its current budget. Legarda said the 2017 budget of DepEd targets the creation of 53,831 teaching positions and 13,391 teaching-related and non-teaching positions; the construction and repair of 47,492 school buildings; and increase the grantees of Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) to 2,664,661.