THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it is preparing a 2021 national budget of P4.3 trillion, with a particular focus on measures to address unemployment resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado said in a Laging Handa briefing that the spending plan for next year will be aligned with the national government’s priorities by setting a high priority on dealing with the consequences of the outbreak, which wiped out livelihoods and jobs.

“We will concentrate on labor-intensive projects and activities to give income opportunities to the most vulnerable and to the most affected sectors and workers both public and private,” Mr. Avisado said.

He added that the DBM is currently conducting a technical review of the budget proposals of every government agency. By the first week of July, the DBM will move to an executive review.

The proposed 2021 spending plan is larger than the 2020 budget, which was a record P4.1 trillion.

Mr. Avisado said the target is to submit the draft budget to President Rodrigo R. Duterte sometime before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) next month. At the latest, Mr. Avisado said the DBM can forward it to the Palace by early August.

Kung hindi namin isasabay sa kanyang SONA ay baka sa second week ng August maisusumite namin for his approval and then after that, maisusumite namin sa kongreso (If we can’t do it by the SONA, maybe we will forward by the second week of August for his approval and then after that, we will submit it to Congress),” he said.

Last month, the Department of Labor and Employment said an estimated 10 million jobs could be lost this year due to the COVID-19 crisis. — Gillian M. Cortez