President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday confirmed that he is set to sign the proposed P5.768-trillion budget for 2024 on Wednesday, and added that the confidential funds matter hounding the Office of the Vice President is “settled,” as far as he is concerned.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, where he attended the ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation Summit, Marcos said that the proposed budget is “very, very close” to the proposed National Expenditures Program (NEP) earlier submitted by the administration to Congress.
“So, I’m fairly comfortable with the way the budget has turned out. We just have to do a little work over the year to make sure that we cover the differential between the actual, appropriated funds and the funds that have been appropriated by Congress, by the House and the Senate,” he said.
Marcos added that a gap remains between the funds appropriated in the 2024 budget and “the funds that we have collected thus far.”
“There’s a certain amount that we now have extra, that we now have to collect, but I’m confident in that because we’re changing the system in Customs, we’re changing, well, the BIR has been very efficient at making the collections but we are still providing new initiatives to make business easier, and also to increase our collection,” he said.
Marcos also confirmed Speaker Martin Romualdez’s earlier assertion on the day he will sign the budget. “Yes, I think we’re scheduled for Wednesday,” he said.
Confi funds issue ‘settled’
Marcos addressed the deletion of the P500 million in proposed confidential and intelligence funds sought by the Office of the Vice President, as well as the P150 million in confidential funds for the Department of Education (DepEd). Vice President Sara Duterte heads both offices.
“Well, that was actually the initiative of the Vice President… I’m not actually talking about the confidential funds and to not insist that they have such confidential fund…So, I think, as far as I’m concerned, it is a settled issue,” he said.
Marcos also said that 2023 was a year of necessary “structural changes” for the government—”for example our fiscal policy, even our monetary policy, our spending policy”—as the country moves away from “the COVID economy.”
“[T]hose structural changes should start to, well, they already have but they will even have a greater effect in 2024 than they did in 2023,” he said.
“They are just, some of the changes that we did to the fiscal, tax structure, some of the changes that we did to the ease of doing business, all of these things have are just beginning to work now because it’s only now that we have put the—we have changed the structure of the different agencies and equally importantly that we are beginning to find the best people for each of those positions,” Marcos added.
For 2024, his goal is to continue modernization efforts.
“Medyo obsolete na ‘yung ibang structure natin sa gobyerno. That we continue to modernize, we continue to be responsive to the new economy, that we position ourselves properly.
“Again, we’re moving—we’re moving in the right direction. But if you ask me, I always say it’s too slow, it’s too slow, it’s too slow. So, we will just keep pushing and pushing and pushing para matapos lahat ito. So that we can start to feel the effects of those changes that we made,” Marcos said.
Marcos returned to the Philippines late Monday evening. — BM, GMA Integrated News