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Friday, December 8, 2023

PBBM certifies proposed 2024 national budget bill as urgent

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has certified as urgent the passage of the proposed P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024.

In a letter addressed to Speaker Martin Romualdez on Wednesday, Mr. Marcos said the immediate enactment of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) was needed to maintain continuous government operations following the end of the fiscal year 2023 and to expedite the funding for various programs.

Certifying the bill as urgent would ensure budgetary preparedness, which will enable the government to perform its constitutional mandate, Mr. Marcos added.

This certification from the President allows the approval of a bill on the second and third reading on the same day. The proposed 2024 national budget is 9.5% higher compared to this year’s P5.268 trillion.

Meanwhile, the Marcos administration wants to allocate P38.75 billion for its digitalization efforts in 2024, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said Wednesday.

The proposed budget to digitalize government processes marks a 60.6-percent increase from the P24.93-billion funding for it in 2023, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said, as she stressed the need to boost public service.

“Technological advancement has given rise to a growing digital economy which continues to create new forms of work, transforming the employment landscape. Hence, investing in the digitalization of the bureaucracy is crucial not only in enhancing its efficiency but also in generating quality jobs for Filipinos,” Pangandaman said.

The bulk of the proposed budget would be divided among 10 government agencies, she added.

These include the Department of Education (P9.43 billion); Department of Justice (P5.55 billion); Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) (P5.34 billion); Department of Finance (P3.15 billion); Department of the Interior and Local Government (P2.60 billion);

National Economic and Development Authority (P2.08 billion); the Judiciary (P1.44 billion); Department of National Defense (P1.12 billion); Department of Environment and Natural Resources (P913 million) and Other Executive Offices (P890 million).

The DBM chief said a total of P990.631 million would be allocated to the information and communications technology (ICT) Systems and Infostructure Development, Management, and Advisory Program of the DICT.

It said the National Government Data Center Infrastructure (NGDCI) Program, which would get P1.67 billion, aims to reduce government spending by providing resources to government agencies either through colocation or cloud services.

She noted that the DICT’s National Government Portal (NGP) would also receive an allocation of P302.86 million to further streamline public service by connecting all government departments to a single website.

Another DICT program, the National Broadband Plan (NBP), will get a budget of P1.50 billion to improve internet speed and allow affordability across the country, the DBM said.

A separate P2.5 billion will fund the Free WiFi Connectivity in Public Places and State Universities and Colleges Program, with a target of 50 broadband sites in 82 provinces.

Pangandaman said keeping updated on technology and maximizing its uses were in line with the Marcos administration’s whole-of-government approach to digitally connect the entire bureaucracy.

The initiative, she said, would not only cut red tape but would likewise generate employment in the expanding digital economy.

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