PALACE SUBMITS P863-BILLION NATIONAL BUDGET

Malacanang, August 7, 2003  (Star) Malacañang formally submitted to Congress yesterday next year’s proposed P864.8 billion national budget, with social services getting the lion’s share at P248.2 billion.

Next in line was the Department of Education, which got P110.5 billion.

President Arroyo said the country’s budget for next year is anchored on "the principle of fiscal responsibility and discipline" to gradually return the balanced budget position in the medium term.

The proposed budget will be consistent to a deficit target of P197.8 billion "or 4.2 percent of the gross domestic product," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said it is lower than this year’s 4.7 percent and last year’s 5.2 percent due to higher revenue collections and continued restraint in spending, she added.

Budget and Management Secretary Emilia Boncodin said the government’s medium term objective is to balance the budget by 2009.

"It’s a commitment to fiscal responsibility and that can be shown by the fact we are now going to start gradually reducing the deficit," she said.

Boncodin said next year’s proposed budget poses a slight increase of 6.6 percent or P53.3 billion higher than this year’s budget.

It is the result of the administration’s commitment to trim down the deficit and the partial inclusion of proceeds from the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, she added. — Paolo Romero, Marichu Villanueva


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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