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LIST: The Top 5 Priority Sectors for the 2021 National Budget

A huge chunk of the budget will be allotted for COVID-19 response, while the rest will be utilized for other priority sectors.

As we approach the last four months of the year, the government is finalizing the national budget for 2021 and where they will be getting it. And with the COVID-19 pandemic nowhere near the end—the World Health Organization (WHO) says the pandemic may be over in two years—the national government is increasing its budget for the fiscal year 2021 to ramp up efforts in containing the deadly virus and controlling its spread.

This is why the national budget for 2021, approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, is at P4.5 trillion—an increase from this year’s P4.1 trillion. The government says a huge chunk of this budget will be allotted for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response, while the rest will be utilized for other priority programs and projects of the government. (Read: LIST: The Loans Signed by PH Government for COVID-19 Response)

But how exactly will the budget be allocated across different sectors? Read on to know the government’s budget priorities for the year 2021!

Health

2021-national-budget
Photo from KJ Rosales / Philstar

With the COVID-19 pandemic predicted to remain as a nationwide issue until next year, the government has made it a top priority to increase the country’s capacity to address healthcare issues.

Specifically, they want to improve the overall health system of the Philippines, as the pandemic has shed light on the inadequate facilities and lack of medical equipment and supplies in the country. (Read: DOH Seeks Additional 3,000 Healthcare Workers in Fight Against COVID-19)

The following are the government’s top priorities for the health sector in 2021:

  • Improve the health system in the country by improving and increasing the number of facilities and laboratories.
  • Purchase essential medical supplies and equipment for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases.
  • Guarantee “sufficient and efficient deployment” of health care workers and professionals.
  • Sustain funding for Department of Health (DOH) programs and the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law.
  • Sustain funding for PhilHealth to cover expenses for re-emerging diseases of indigent members.

Infrastructure

2021-national-budget
ADB is supporting the Philippine government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure development program by assisting in the preparation of flagship infrastructure projects, including railways, roads, bridges, and flood protection facilities. (Photo from Asian Development Bank)

Because of limitations on road access, many farmers have been forced to throw away their produce as they cannot deliver to markets in different areas. These farmers’ main source of income is their produce, and the lack of roads and highways especially during this pandemic has caused them to lose income. (Read: This Group of Women Brings Cordillera Produce to the Metro Amid Pandemic)

This is why the national government intends to focus on building critical infrastructures such as roads and bridges that would connect far-flung areas to the main city and major highways. This will not only aid local farmers, it will also help those who travel for work get to their destinations much easier. (Read: Are Motorcycle Barriers Actually Safe and Effective?)

The following are the government’s top priorities for the country’s infrastructure in 2021:

  • Ensure funding of “critical” infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build Program, especially those for health facilities.
  • Build and enhance roads and logistics infrastructures.

Food Security

2021-national-budget
Photo from AFP / Rappler

Just like for infrastructure, one of the main reasons why the government wants to help farmers is for food security. In cases like this when farmers and producers fail to deliver their products to the market, it can cause market prices to increase and stocks to easily run out. This does not only affect the producers, but also the consumers, as they need these products for their day-to-day living. (Read: 5 Suppliers Who Source Fruits and Vegetables From Local Farmers)

This is why the government has made the following their top priorities for food safety in the year 2021:

  • Ensure the continuous movement of agricultural goods from local sources to markets.
  • Reinforce the provision of the necessary machinery to increase support services for farmers and agricultural-based industries.

Industry and Livelihood

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With 99.6% of businesses in the country as MSMEs, the Philippine Innovation Act will address problems such as access to resources and markets, and weave them as part of the domestic and global supply chain. (Photo from Mark Cayabyab / Os Win Gatchalian)

During the pandemic, many have lost their jobs. This in turn has forced them to start their own businesses—whether it be food, clothes, or other services—just to put food on the table. (Read: Pinoy entrepreneurs start movement to solve business woes amid COVID-19 lockdown)

This is why the government is also prioritizing assisting owners of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) through the government’s MSME Resiliency Program, so they could maximize and utilize their businesses. Specifically, they intend to do the following by the year 2021:

  • Endorse the Balik Probinsiya program.
  • Aid owners of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) through the government’s livelihood and capacity-building programs.
  • Expand Shared Service Facilities and Regional Inclusive Innovation Centers.

Governance

2021-national-budget
Photo from It’s More Fun With Juan

The year 2020 has seen a series of Senate hearings on different issues—with the lack of concrete plans for Balik Eskwela as one of the major ones. As the pandemic greatly affects the education system in the country, the Department of Education (DepEd) has told schools, colleges, and universities to shift to online classes in the meantime. However, this brought to light the issues surrounding technology and telecommunications in the country. (Read: We Asked Teachers: How Are You Adapting to Online Learning?)

To address these issues, the national government intends to improve the country’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT). This may be in forms of improving online services, increasing the capacity to conduct online classes, and initiating other technological advances that would help the public in terms of ICTs. Specifically, the government intends to do the following by the year 2021:

  • Increase capacity to conduct learning and capacity-building programs, and utilize the use of e-learning and digital methods.
  • Speed up the implementation of the Philippine Identification System.
  • Invest in ICT to help improve the government’s online presence and sustain the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT)’s programs.

Source: 2021 Budget Priorities Framework — Department of Budget and Management (DBM)

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