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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI), a consortium of 60 nongovernment
organizations globally recognized as one of the best practices in budget
advocacy, urged Senators and heads of Senate offices to adopt the
alternative budget proposals for health, education, environment and
agriculture so that rehabilitation and reconstruction in the wake of
destructive typhoons can be accelerated.

During the ABI Forum held today (November 18) at the Philippine Senate,
former national treasurer Leonor Magtolis Briones, lead convenor of Social
Watch Philippines (SWP) which organized the ABI, said that there is a need
to increase allocations for critical socioeconomic programs as the
proposed 2010 expenditure program is a 'maintenance' budget and not
designed to lay the groundwork for recovery and a full-scale revving up of
the economy in the coming years.

"The allocations for critical socioeconomic services in the proposed 2010
budget and the additional revenues will not be enough for rehabilitation
and reconstruction of sectors damaged by recent calamities. It will also
not be enough to shelter the people from the impacts of globalization and
the global economic crisis," said Briones.

She explained that the allocations for Economic Services, which includes
agriculture, environment, trade, power and energy and water resources
decreased by P25 billion. The total budget for Departments was also
reduced by P51 billion.  "Figures clearly show that the that the eight
percent increase in the budget for 2010 is not geared towards greater
spending for programs that will have the greatest impact on economic and
social development," Briones said.

The ABI proposed a total of P25.2 billion additional allocations for
health, agriculture, environment and education. This includes additional
allocation of P9.6 billion for education, P2.1 billion for health, P790
million for agriculture and P11.3 billion for environment. The group also
proposed a total of  P50 billion alternative sources of financing to be
able to increase the budget for social development.

"We urge the Senate to adopt our alternative budget proposals for better
allocation for health, agriculture, environment and education. The
Philippines is already in danger of missing its targets on ending the
worst forms of human deprivation as embodied in the Millennium Development
Goals. More than one third of the population is living on less than one
dollar a day. Five million children cannot go to school. We are among the
countries with the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in Asia.
Meanwhile, the extreme weather conditions aggravate the situation,"
Briones said.

"The alternative budget proposals by civil society groups aim to increase
financing for these vulnerable sectors who should be the targets of
rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the government," she added.

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