The Senate’s proposed 2023 budget highlights social safety nets in a bid to support economic recovery amid continuing uncertainties brought mainly by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Win Gatchalian said.
“We recognize the need to support marginalized sectors of our society, but this should be targeted, which means only those in dire need should receive aid from the government,” Gatchalian stressed.
“We have instituted social safety nets such as subsidies for fuel, subsidies for the poorest of the poor, and other energy-related subsidies as we expect external factors such as the Russia-Ukraine issue and the COVID-19 pandemic to persist in 2023,” said Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance Sub-Committee E.
“As long as the Russia-Ukraine conflict is there, crude oil prices are likely to be around $90 per barrel by next year and we see local pump prices to hover around P70-P90 per liter. This means we still need to give subsidy, but this should be targeted,” he said.
Financial subsidies provided by the government include the subsidy for the transport sector called the Pantawid Pasada Program and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for the poorest of the poor. Other energy-related subsidies include the electrification programs of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the fuel and off grid electrification for rural areas, and the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF) to fund electric cooperatives in restoring distribution lines damaged by typhoons and other natural calamities.
Under the Senate’s proposed budget for next year, a total of P110.61 billion has been allocated for the 4Ps program while the Pantawid Pasada program carries a proposed budget of P5 billion. Meanwhile, for the energy-related subsidies, the DOE electrification has a budget of P500 million, P1.6 billion for NEA electrification, and P200 million for ECERF.
“The Senate is making sure that protective mechanisms that would support vulnerable sectors are sufficiently backed in terms of budgetary support. Kung sino ang talagang nangangailangan, sila ang dapat bigyan ng ayuda,” Gatchalian ended.