PH leads in budget participation

The Philippines has maintained its lead in Southeast Asia in the public participation indicator of the 2021 Open Budget Survey (OBS) conducted by the International Budget Partnership.

Based on the results of the survey, the Philippines scored 35 points out of 100 in terms of the formal opportunities offered to the public for meaningful participation in the different stages of the budget process.

This is significantly higher than the global average of 14 points.

Garnering a score of 68 points out of 100, the Philippines also ranked 19th out of 120 countries on the transparency indicator that measures public access to information on how the national government raises and spends public resources.

Among the key budget documents made available to the public by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was the People’s Budget, a simpler and less technical version of the government's proposed and enacted budget.

The country also aced the budget oversight indicator by securing 74 points. The indicator looks into the role that legislatures and supreme audit institutions (SAIs) play in the budget process and the extent to which they provide oversight.

In her message, Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman expressed enthusiasm over the country’s performance in the survey while stressing the importance of open government and its advantages to the society.

“In all previous budget engagements, in all the reforms the DBM has initiated, and in all fiscal policies formulated, we have always underscored the importance of having an open budget system — one that is transparent, fosters public participation, and has adequate budget oversight from the legislative and audit institutions,” Pangandaman said.

Pangandaman, likewise, affirmed the current administration’s efforts to continue, and even improve the programs and initiatives of the government to promote transparency, as well as open and participatory government.

“We hope to fast-track our initiatives to digitize government processes and transactions through the implementation of the Integrated Financial Management Information System, as well as the enactment of the Progressive Budgeting for Better and Modernized Governance Bill,” the budget chief said.

For his part, Budget Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo echoed Pangandaman's commitment and laid out vital projects of the DBM that aim to promote transparency, accountability, and good governance.

“Through her leadership, the DBM is championing for budget transparency through government digitalization including institutionalization of budget reforms and digitalization of our public financial management (PFM),” Toledo said.

“The Budget Chief underscored that by investing in digital infrastructure, the government can improve its revenue collection which will ultimately promote efficiency, transparency, and accountability in the use of public funds,” he added.