[B-SIDE Podcast] Money Where Your Mouth Is: The Proposed National Budget and Government Priorities


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Although he said the pandemic response is a priority, the executive department of the Duterte administration cuts the 50.4 billion pesos allocated to health workers‘allowances and other benefits of the proposed 2022 budget.

“It’s so important for us to know exactly what the government wants to do – and what it really wants to do is reflected in the national budget. It’s not really in the public statements that officials make day after day at their press conferences, ”said Zy-za Nadine Suzara, executive director of the Institute for Leadership, Empowerment and Democracy (iLead) think tank.

In this B-side episode with Business world reporter Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Ms. Suzara explains why the general public should pay close attention to ongoing budget deliberations.

TO TAKE AWAY

Look at the elements of the line.

The Ministry of Health The 242 billion pesos budget may seem like a large sum, but according to Suzara, it is insufficient for an adequate response to the pandemic.

What’s more important is not to look at the numbers, she said. “What’s more important to watch are the very specific programs that are part of it.”

Vaccines, for example, are subject to unscheduled credits. “When it is part of unscheduled credits, … it kind of symbolizes that it is [vaccine procurement] in fact the second priority.

Sponsorship-oriented projects have been renamed sustainability projects.

“Sponsorship-oriented and less strategic projects like multipurpose rooms and small types of infrastructure… have been renamed as sustainability projects under the Convergence Program,” said Ms. Suzara. “They are pretty much the same. It is certainly a cause for concern.

The 2022 budget must face up to the public health crisis

“If we don’t see funds for contact tracing, massive testing, strengthening of the public health system and providing risk allocations to health workers who are on the front line – as well as funds for the buy vaccines now – then we’re going to have a hard time containing this pandemic, ”Ms. Suzara said. “And we’ll likely see a cycle of foreclosure and reopening of the economy happen over and over again.”

… And economic recovery.

“Build, Construct, Construct projects are capital expenditures that are not disbursed quickly,” said Ms. Suzara. “For government spending to have an impact on our GDP, it must be spent on fast-disbursing spending. ”

Instead of spending on “Build, Build, Build” projects, Ms. Suzara recommended focusing on cash assistance, distance learning, public utility vehicle (VPU) driver service contract program, support for micro, small and medium enterprises, among other programs that can help Filipinos cope with the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Recorded remotely on September 11. Produced by Paolo L. Lopez and Sam L. Marcelo.

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