MANILA — The Philippines‘ lower house of Congress has approved on third and final reading President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposed 5.02 trillion pesos ($98.64 billion) budget for 2022, aimed at breathing life back into an economy battered by the pandemic.
Duterte’s record spending plan, up 11.5% from this year’s budget, is his last before his six-year term ends in June 2022.
While the budget met little resistance in a lower house, dominated by Duterte’s allies, it will likely face tougher scrutiny in the Senate, which has been holding an investigation into the government’s use of pandemic funds.
Next year’s budget includes over 1 trillion pesos for infrastructure, 17 billion pesos for hiring health workers and 19.6 billion pesos for construction and of upgrading health facilities. It will also set aside funds for COVID-19 booster shots.
“This fiscally responsible budget offers a blueprint to help the country recover fully and effectively from the devastating effects of the pandemic and chart a better path forward,” House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said in a statement on Friday.
The Philippines, has recorded more than 2.5 million COVID-19 cases and over 38,000 deaths and is one of Asia’s worst-affected countries in terms of casualties and economic losses.
Strict and lengthy lockdowns knocked the Philippine economy off as it suffered a record 9.6% contraction last year.
($1 = 50.89 Philippine pesos) —Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty