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Philippines' Duterte jacks up budget to fight crime

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - 14:29
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced a sharp increase in next year's national budget to fund his controversial war on crime, with security forces to get big pay rises.

[MANILA] Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced a sharp increase in next year's national budget to fund his controversial war on crime, with security forces to get big pay rises.

The political outsider swept to a landslide election victory in May and immediately implemented an anti-drug crackdown that has seen police and vigilantes kill more than 1,000 people, according to media tallies.

In announcing a 3.35-trillion-peso (S$96.5 billion) 2017 budget, up 11.6 per cent from this year, Mr Duterte said late on Monday a top priority for the increased government spending would be "more effective crime suppression".

The police budget will increase by 24.6 per cent, to 110.4 billion pesos, with the money to be spent on hiring more officers, raising their salaries and buying them more guns, according to a government statement.

The judiciary's budget will rise by 21.5 per cent to help them handle more cases, it said.

Mr Duterte is also planning a 15 per cent rise in the military budget, to 130.6 billion pesos.

No details were released on the military and police pay raises, but Mr Duterte, the president for the next six years, has repeatedly vowed to double them.

To address what the government described as the country's "broken" infrastructure network, Mr Duterte will spend 860.7 billion pesos, up 13.8 per cent from 2016, for fixing or building roads, railways, seaports and airports.

The figure boosts infrastructure spending to 5.4 per cent of the country's expected total economic output next year, with the target eventually rising to between six and seven per cent of the gross domestic product, it added.

According to projections by Bloomberg, the 2017 budget could widen the government's deficit to 478.1 billion pesos or 3.0 per cent of GDP, from a projected 2.7 per cent this year.

The first Mr Duterte budget continues the double-digit annual rises seen during the term of predecessor Benigno Aquino.

Congress has to approve the budget, but this is widely expected to be a formality due to a huge majority of Mr Duterte allies in both chambers.

AFP