MANILA— Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr asked Congress on Monday for a record 5.29 trillion pesos ($94.40 billion) government budget in 2023 to support an ambitious policy agenda aimed at boosting growth and lifting millions out of poverty.
Marcos’ proposed budget, which is equal to 22.2% of the country’s total economic output, is nearly 5% higher than his predecessor’s spending plan for 2022.
He is aiming to expand the Southeast Asian economy by as much as 8% 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% 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 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% of the total budget, followed by public works with 13%, healthcare with 5%, and social welfare with about 4%, 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% jump from its 2022 budget.
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 program. His cousin, Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, is the speaker of the lower house.
($1 = 56.0400 Philippine pesos)
—Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor