Philippines' Marcos seeks record $131b budget for 2023

Education, infrastructure, food security, healthcare and clean energy got top priority in the 2023 budget. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

MANILA (REUTERS) - Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr asked Congress on Monday (Aug 22) for a record 5.29 trillion pesos (S$131 billion) government budget in 2023 to support an ambitious policy agenda aimed at boosting growth and lifting millions out of poverty.

Mr Marcos' proposed budget, which is equal to 22.2 per cent of the country's total economic output, is nearly 5 per cent higher than his predecessor's spending plan for 2022.

He is aiming to expand the South-east Asian economy by as much as 8 per cent during his six-year term, to keep its place among Asia's fastest-growing nations, and halve the poverty rate, which stood at 18.1 per cent in 2021.

Education, infrastructure, food security, healthcare and clean energy got top priority in the 2023 budget, which was presented to Congress by a presidential representative.

Congress is expected to approve the budget by October and Mr Marcos is expected to sign it into law before year's end.

The education sector will receive the highest allocation of 852.8 billion pesos or 16 per cent of the total budget, followed by public works with 13 per cent, healthcare with 5 per cent, and social welfare with about 4 per cent, Mr Marcos said in a statement that accompanied the budget proposal.

The president, who is the son and namesake of the strongman toppled in a 1986 uprising, also runs the agriculture portfolio, which will receive 184.1 billion pesos, a 40 per cent jump from its 2022 budget.

Mr Marcos, who won a single six-year term in the May election, commands a supermajority in Congress, boosting chances of advancing his legislative agenda, including his 2023 expenditure programme.

His cousin, Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, is the speaker of the Lower House.

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