MANILA, DECEMBER 21, 2011 (BULLETIN) The P1.816-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2012, Republic Act 10155, was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on December 15, 2011.

The 2012 National Budget is described as a “results-focused budget” that seeks greater funding to achieve the Aquino Administration’s Social Contract with the Filipino People, which defines five priority areas: Transparent, accountable, and participatory governance; poverty reduction and empowerment of the poor and vulnerable; rapid, inclusive, and sustained economic growth; just and lasting peace and the rule of law; and integrity of the environment and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

President Aquino says, “The 2012 National Budget is biased for the poor. We must change the way we implement our poverty interventions. We cannot combat poverty in a business-as-usual manner; otherwise funds will go to waste and the poor will continue to be poor.

With the reduction of leakages, inducement of efficiencies and better selection of project priorities, we can ensure that more of our people’s hard-earned tax money is spent on programs, projects, and activities that benefit them the most.”

The 2012 National Budget, which is 10.4 percent higher than the P1.645-trillion 2011 budget, is the highest in Philippine history. It represents 16.5 percent of the projected Gross Domestic Product and is based on a conservative growth assumption of 5.5 percent as the administration sees a 7-8 percent growth for 2012.

The Department of Education will get the biggest slice of the total budget followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of National Defense, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Agriculture.

By sector, social services have the biggest funding, followed by economic services, debt service, general public services, and defense. Flagship projects of the administration such as the conditional cash transfer will get P39.4 billion.

The administration’s “Daang Matuwid” (straight path) and anti-corruption pledge have been raising people’s hopes.

As department and agencies start executing their programs and projects starting January, 2012, it is expected that a prudent spending of the 2012 National Budget will translate to better services and greater economic opportunities for many Filipinos, especially the less privileged and marginalized.

Business More Optimistic In 2012Forecasts Stronger 6% GDP ExpansionBy BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

MANILA, Philippines — Businessmen are looking forward to brighter six percent economic growth in 2012 on the back of the implementation of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects, the centerpiece of the Aquino administration’s infrastructure development program, and improved government spending.

“We should aim for six percent GDP next year,” said Ambassador Francis Chua, President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

Chua said he was optimistic that government would finally put on the block the huge infrastructure projects identified under the PPP early next year to perk up the local economy.

“Hopefully, the international front will also cooperate and the Euro and US crisis would be over,” he added.

If the US and Europe economies recover in 2012, Chua said this would mean higher exports for the Philippines to these markets especially in the electronics sector. Economic recovery in these two markets could also boost the country’s tourism sector.

“There are also exciting changes in the mining sector next year,” Chua said.

Chua, who will be succeeded by Miguel B. Varela next year as PCCI president, cited the local economy for being resilient despite the challenges.

"We should be happy to close the year with four percent GDP," Chua told reporters.

Aside from the continued strong investments inflow in power, tourism and BPO sectors, Chua said the domestic economy is still positive.

"Taking consideration all the challenges including the global impact of the US and Europe crisis, and yet we are still positive. We should be happy," Chua said.

He said the last quarter of the year should have been better had it not for the impact of the typhoons on properties and agricultural produce.

Chua, however, believes that 2012 would be a better year.

His projection of a better 2012 is anchored on the fact that the Aquino administration is already on its third year and should be able to focus on implementing projects particularly the PPP program.

"I do expect 2012 to be a much much better year considering our president is already on his third year in office and the administration has already learned the ropes and wile sincerely believe in the implementation of the PPP projects, so the outlook is bright," Chua said.

The growth drivers for next year would be the same sectors that contributed to the growth of the economy.

These are tourism, BPO and mining.

"The Philippines is a well kept secret in the areas of tourism. There is a huge potential for the country's tourism," he said.

He also said that OFW remittances have remained high and that should propel the economic growth.(BCM)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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