President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday signed into law Republic Act 10147, the P1.645-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2011 which is actually his first financial blueprint that will enable the national government to address the urgent needs of the marginalized sector of society.
In a speech after the signing at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall, the Chief Executive said this is the first time in 11 years that the national budget was signed on time.
Of the total budget, the social services sector got the lion's share at 34.1 percent, a 16.8 percent hike from its 2010 budget, the highest increase among all sectors. It includes a P21-billion allocation for the conditional cash transfer program and P1.2 billion in unaudited intelligence funds.
"Congress has ratified the General Appropriations Act for 2011. By so doing, it has made possible my signing the national budget today. This will be the first time in 11 years that the budget will be signed into law on the same year that it was submitted," the President said.
The President noted that the House of Representatives and the Senate “have proven that both chambers of Congress are indeed serious about the primary duty of the legislature.”
"The budget is the most important act of any Congress. Its early passage means that the much-needed programs for poverty alleviation and development can be implemented earlier," he stressed.
The President pointed out that the early signing of the budget "will enable us to address the urgent needs of our people in a timely manner. Such needs include building more rural health units and providing immunization for children. This also allows us to construct new classrooms and hire new teachers, as promised to the Filipino people."
Present during the budget signing ceremony were Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Congress committee leaders and members of the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said the signing of the GAA for 2011 is the first budget with transparency and accountability provisions integrated under the zero-based budgeting (ZBB) approach.
Under the ZBB approach, the government, according to Abad should reduce or terminate funding for projects or programs which are ineffective, inefficient or fraught with leakages, and to expand funding for those which are well performing and are critical for development.
“These general and special provisions require us to disclose key information on budgetary appropriations and releases using new information technology. This administration has nothing to hide from the people,” he said.
Aside from social services, the sectors that got an increase in the 2011 budget were the following:
- P110 million for the maintenance and operating expenses of 80 state universities and colleges (SUC);
- P8 million in the budget of the Office of the Vice President;
- P200 million in subsidies for local government units;
- P590 million in the budget of the House of Representatives; and
- P345 million in the budget of the Senate.