Philippines' Duterte signs $98.5 billion budget for 2022

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's 6th State of the Nation Address (SONA)

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday signed a 5.024 trillion pesos ($98.45 billion) budget for next year, the Southeast Asian country's largest ever, as it aims to sustain economic recovery and manage COVID-19 outbreaks.

The national budget, 11.5% bigger than this year's spending plan, is Duterte's last before his single, six-year term ends in June.

The 2022 budget will "inspire actions that focus on building resilience amidst the pandemic, sustaining momentum towards recovery, and continuing the legacy of infrastructure development", Duterte's office said in a statement.

It includes capital outlays of 1 trillion pesos for infrastructure spending, budgetary support for state corporations, and capital transfers to local government units.

The Philippines, among the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia, plans to spend up to 48.2 billion pesos for vaccine purchases next year as it ramps up its booster programme.

The country has allocated 23 billion pesos to construct new health facilities, expand and upgrade existing ones, and procure equipment for hospitals.

The government will also spend 983 million pesos for the establishment of a virology institute, which will help the government study and address novel, emerging, and re-emerging viruses.

The Philippines is aiming to hit economic expansion rates of 7.0%-9.0% for 2022 and 6.0%-7.0% for both 2023 and 2024, faster than the upgraded target of 5.0% to 5.5% for this year.

($1 = 51.03 Philippine pesos)

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by James Pearson)

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