THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has issued its budget call for the 2024 spending plan, which it said will focus on addressing the impact of a looming global recession and economic scarring from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The 2024 budget is poised to respond to the expected continuing headwinds brought about by the Russia-Ukraine war, the external recessionary pressures which inflation has stoked and the economic scarring which COVID-19 has wrought to our economy,” the DBM said in its National Budget Call for Fiscal Year 2024 released on Jan. 12.

The issuance of a National Budget Call signals the start of the budget preparation throughout the bureaucracy.

The proposed 2024 budget is pegged at P5.8 trillion, according to the Development Budget Coordination Committee. This is 10% higher than the P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023.

“The government will continue to implement risk managed interventions in areas of food security, transport and logistics, energy, bureaucratic efficiency and fiscal management, health, education, and social protection, to ensure the unimpeded and adequate delivery of social services, mitigate inflation pressures, accelerate economic recovery, and address economic scarring,” the DBM said.

The Philippine economy, which is expected to grow by 6-7% this year, is facing challenges arising from elevated inflation, rising borrowing costs and a likely global recession.

Average inflation rate accelerated to a 14-year high of 5.8% in 2022, although the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas expects inflation to ease to 4.5% this year.

Amid tight fiscal space, the DBM said next year’s budget should include only “implementation-ready” proposals from government agencies.

“This means that the agencies’ budget proposals are expected to contain concrete program plans and designs that outline key procurement and implementation milestones, including specific project locations and beneficiaries,” it said, adding that agencies’ budget utilization and performance in 2022 would be evaluated.

The DBM said the 2024 budget proposals should include the priorities and policy directions of the Marcos administration, citing the government’s medium-term fiscal framework, the eight-point socioeconomic agenda and the Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2028.

Next year’s budget should also have a continued emphasis on infrastructure development, including the Build Better More program, and digital and social infrastructure.

“However, increased infrastructure spending will not, in any way, detract from the full support provided to the poorest, lagging, climate change and disaster risk vulnerable areas nor the social sector, and basic public services,” it added.

The proposed budget should also allocate funds for capacity-building programs for local government units (LGUs) as they assume devolved functions and services from the National Government.

The budget should also ensure regional plans are in line with national priorities “to achieve equitable regional investment opportunities and growth.”

“In particular, the National Government’s 2024 budget shall provide funds for agencies’ regional programs which are responsive to the needs of the poorest, disadvantaged and lagging LGUs,” the budget department added.

According to the DBM memorandum, government agencies should submit their budget proposals between April 17 to May 15.

The proposed 2024 national budget will be submitted to Congress on July 24. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson