IN BLOOM. A customer views the colorful flowers being sold inside the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City on Thursday (Aug. 25, 2022). A wide array of plants are sold at the Quezon Memorial Circle, ranging from ornamental ones to fruit trees and vegetables. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug 26 (Mabuhay) — Speaker Martin Romualdez on Friday said the House of Representatives would ensure that the proposed PHP5.268-trillion national budget for 2023 will sustain the country’s economic growth amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“We will make sure that each bit of spending will contribute to our goal of reigniting the fires of our economic forges, and at least propel the country to reach economic growth at pre-pandemic levels,” Romualdez said at the start of the House deliberations on the first full-year budget proposal of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The deliberations started with a briefing by the Development Budget Coordination Committee composed of Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Secretary Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority, and Gov. Felipe Medalla of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Romualdez said every centavo of the proposed budget for next year would be scrutinized carefully.

“Every centavo of this national budget will be spent wisely to implement projects and programs putting primordial consideration into saving lives; building and protecting communities; and making our economy strong and more agile,” Romualdez said.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the country’s economy as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) posted a stellar growth of 8.2 percent in the first quarter and 7.4 percent in the second quarter of 2022.

Romualdez described the proposed capital outlay as a “conservative budget, where fiscal discipline is harmonized with growth and recovery from the impact of the lingering Covid-19 pandemic.”

“The challenges ahead of us may be daunting, and we shall rely on the brilliance of this administration’s economic team to usher us in sustaining the economic progress achieved by its predecessor,” he said.

He called on his colleagues to participate actively in the deliberation and approval process for the proposed 2023 budget, which would be aligned with the Marcos administration’s eight-point economic agenda contained in the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework.

“Foremost is to ensure food security by pouring in precise intervention to increase food production and reduce cost, in addition to lowering transport, logistics, and energy cost to protect the purchasing power of the consumers,” he said.

Romualdez also expressed confidence that the House committee on appropriations, chaired by Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, would be able to pass the budget measure in a timely manner.

“I am confident with the leadership of the committee on appropriations and the overwhelming support of its members, that we shall be able to pass this budget expeditiously without sacrificing the independence of` the House of Representatives,” Romualdez said.

“Let’s buckle down to work, and with a united front, we shall be able to deliver the necessary tools and resources to improve the lives of the Filipino people and uplift their hope for a better quality of life,” he added.

Co, meanwhile, said the panel would scrutinize every aspect of the budget to ensure that it is consistent with the economic agenda of the President.

“We shall guarantee that every peso authorized in this budget is directed to address food security and inflation, reduce poverty, and provide the necessary stimulus for eocnomic transformation. Let’s work hard and work together to accomplish this task assigned to us by the Filipino people to ascertain their future prosperity and advancement,” Co said. (MNS)