The 2023 National Budget is the first of the Marcos Jr. administration. At P 5.26 trillion, it is the largest budget that we’ve ever had. How might ordinary citizens take the proposed budget apart?
Phases of the Budget Process
The average citizen must first understand the budget process. The submission of the P 5.26 trillion budget is actually the third step in the cycle. The four phases are budget preparation, authorization, execution, and accountability. For our purposes, we will focus on the first two phases.
Preparation of the 2023 National Budget
Budget preparation is the first part of the process. This starts with the budget call. During this process, the DBM asks government agencies to submit their budget proposals. These proposals must fit within the budget ceiling and forward estimates set by the Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC).
The DBCC prepares these estimates based on macroeconomic assumptions. These assumptions typically include GDP growth, inflation targets, expected exchange rates, and the global price of oil.
Agency proposals are classified according to tiers. Tier 1 programs are “ongoing spending” and have a ceiling based on DBCC projections. Tier 2 programs are for new or expanded spending proposals.
All of these programs comprise the proposed budget. The proposed budget is known as the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
Authorization is the second phase of the budget process. First, the President submits the NEP to Congress. Second, Congress scrutinizes and enacts it as the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Why does Congress need to enact the GAA? Specifically, Section 29 (1) of Article 6 of the 1987 Constitution states: “No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law”. This is the “power of the purse” provision. The President shall submit the budget within 30 days from the opening of Congress. It shall be accompanied by a budget of expenditures and sources of financing.
What are the limitations on Congress’ enactment of the budget? Sections 24 and 25 of Article 6 of the Constitution provide some limits. First, the budget must originate from the House of Representatives. Second, the Congress cannot increase the total appropriations recommended by the President. Third, special provisions must be related to an underlying appropriation. Fourth, the current year’s budget will be automatically re-enacted if Congress fails to pass the new appropriations law by the end of the year.
The national budget must follow the procedures of the constitution. First, it must undergo three readings on three separate days. Second, it must undergo a bicameral committee. The Committee will reconcile all contradictory provisions.
The 2023 National Budget: Key Dimensions
The proposed budget for 2023 amounts to Php 5.26 trillion. Thus, it is 2.44 billion pesos larger than the current year. It can be further be broken down into new and automatic appropriations. On one hand, new appropriations amount to Php 3.67 trillion. On one hand, automatic appropriations amount to Php 1.59 trillion.
However, P5.26 trillion is not the total size of the budget. There are also Php 588 billion worth of unprogrammed appropriations. These serve as standby authority in case there are increases in non-tax revenues. There are P156.0 billion of earmarked revenues. And there are P104.67 billion worth of off-budget funds.
The budget can also be divided between Departments and Special Purpose Funds. Departments will account for Php 3.00 trillion. This is an increase of Php 320.4 billion. Special purpose funds will account for P669.2 billion. The ten largest agencies are listed below:
|Department||Proposed 2023 Budget|
|Public Works and Highways||P718.4 billion|
|Interior and Local Government||P253.0 billion|
|National Defense||P240.7 billion|
|Social Welfare and Development||P197.0 billion|
|State Universities and Colleges||P97.7 billion|
|The Judiciary||P52.7 billion|