Thursday, August 8, 2013

Gov't to hire 131 docs to the barrios, 22,500 nurses; repair 2,871 clinics, spend P10.2 B for drugs, insure 14.7 M families

MANILA-Describing it as a “prescription for drugs, doctors, and clinics”, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto today likened the P81.7 billion proposed budget of the Department of Health for 2014 as a “needed shot in the arm for the public health system.”

“It is definitely a booster shot. It is P30 billion bigger than the DoH’s adjusted budget of P51.9 billion this year,” Recto said.  

Recto said the budget will allow the Health department to hire131 “doctors to the barrios,” regularize the employment of 22,500 nurses who were taken in as contractual workers, and field 3,000 midwives.

The initial year’s salary of this “army of health workers,” according to Recto, is P3 billion.

Also included in the DoH’s 2014 budget is P13.3 billion for the rehabilitation and construction of 2,871 health facilities and purchase of new equipment. 

To be built or spruced up are 962 barangay health stations, 1,265 rural health units, 561 hospitals run by local governments, and 60 hospitals operated by the DoH, including nine leading specialty hospitals which will be given P2.3 billion for new buildings and medical equipment.

He said the purchase of P4.3 billion worth of apparatus will allow health facilities nationwide to improve their diagnostic and treatment capabilities.

Also to be procured next year are P10.2 billion worth of medicines and vaccines, Recto said. Included in the buying list are vaccines costing P2.8 billion for 2.7 million children targeted by an “expanded program on immunization.”

 These are, however, on top of local government purchases as most of public hospitals have been “devolved” to LGUs, Recto said.

However, the biggest chunk in the Health budget remains the P35.3 billion cost of enrolling 14.7 million “poor and near-poor families” in the National Health Insurance Program.  

With this amount, 100 percent of indigent families identified in official poverty counts will be brought under health insurance, Recto said.

Recto said the P81.7 billion DoH outlay for 2014 likewise includes P2.8 billion for “Family Health and Responsible Parenting.”

"Included in this expense item is Rotavirus vaccination for 2.4 million infants," Recto said. 

Gov’t to spend P2.17 billion a day in 2014 for debt service

MANILA-Government’s interest and principal payments on its debts will reach P791.5 billion next year, or a daily disbursement rate of P2.17 billion, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.
While debt service will climb to an all-time high next year, “the good news is that share of interest payments in the national budget has been falling sharply,” Recto said.
Recto added that the debt-to-GDP ratio, which is a better barometer of a country’s indebtedness, is also improving, with the country’s numbers better than its Southeast Asian neighbors and even developed countries like the United States.
Recto said that interest payments for 2014 has been programmed at P352.7 billion, or 15.6 percent of the proposed P2.268 trillion budget. 
“This is a very impressive markdown compared to what we were coughing up ten years ago when interest payments were eating up 35 percent of the national budget,” Recto said.
“Gone are the days when one-third of the budget was remitted to our creditors,” Recto said.
In 2010, on the first year of the Aquino administration alone, share of interest payments was already pared down to 19.1 percent of the national budget.
Of the 352.7 billion earmarked for interest payments for 2014, P248.4 billion will be for domestic liabilities while P104.3 billion will be for foreign debt.
Next year’s interest payments expense is P20.5 billion or 6.2 percent bigger than the P332.2 billion allocated this year. 
Recto explained that only interest payments are included in the national budget. Principal amortization – or the amount for the retirement of debts – is treated as an off-budget item and is not included in the General Appropriations Act.
For principal amortization, the amount allotted for next year is P438.8 billion, with domestic obligations cornering P350.9 billion.
Principal payments on foreign debt, on the other hand, will range from P85.8 billion to P89.9 billion, depending on the US dollar-Philippine peso exchange rate which for 2014 budgeting purposes was pegged at P41-43 per US$1.
As of April 2013, national government outstanding debt stood at P5.309 trillion, an amount representing 48.9 percent of the GDP.
In contrast, the United States and Greece have a debt-to-GDP ratio of 114 percent and 200 percent respectively. 


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