PH passes US State Department’s fiscal transparency requirements

Published June 16, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Roy Mabasa

The Philippines is among the 76 countries that had complied with the minimum requirements on fiscal transparency for 2020, an annual review conducted by the US Department of State on governments that receive assistance from the United States.

This was contained in the US State Department’s 2020 Fiscal Transparency Report, the results of which were based on its assessment of governments during the review period of January 1 – December 31, 2019. The State Department considered information from its embassies and consulates, other US government agencies, international organizations, and civil society organizations.

“The minimum requirements of fiscal transparency include having key budget documents that are publicly available, substantially complete, and generally reliable,” the report said.

“Minimum requirements of fiscal transparency” is defined in the report as the public disclosure of national budget documentation (to include income and expenditures by the ministry) and government contracts and licenses for natural resource extraction (to include bidding and concession allocation practices).

The State Department said fiscal transparency is a critical element of effective public financial management as it helps build market confidence, and underpins economic sustainability.

“Fiscal transparency fosters greater government accountability by providing a window into government budgets for citizens, helping citizens hold their leadership accountable, and facilitating better-informed public debate,” it noted in the report.

The report, however, clarified that a finding that a government “meets the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency” does not necessarily reflect a low level of corruption.

Similarly, a finding that a government “does not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency” does not necessarily mean there is significant corruption in the government.

Annual reviews of governments that receive U.S. assistance help ensure that U.S. taxpayer funds are used appropriately.

Moreover, the report identifies the significant progress made by each government to publicly disclose national budget documentation, contracts, and licenses, which is additional to information disclosed in previous years.

The US department then makes specific recommendations of short- and long-term steps that such a government should take to improve its fiscal transparency.