DBM: Looking back at 2023, Soaring even higher in 2024 and beyond



Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PBBM) noted in his New Year’s Message that "every new beginning allows us to reflect on what we have accomplished, move forward with the lessons we have learned, and reinforce the unity we have forged as a people."  

Thus, while sitting in my thinking chair, I was able to reflect on the year that was for us in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). Indeed, Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 was full of challenges and meaningful changes.

You see, while the DBM was releasing funds for 2023, we were also diligently preparing the FY 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP). We turned over the NEP to PBBM a day after his State of the Nation Address in July. After thorough deliberations in Congress, on Dec. 20, 2023, PBBM timely signed the FY 2024 National Budget into law, manifesting his administration's dedication to ensuring that the people's money is allocated in a fair, transparent, and accountable manner.

Further, aligned with DBM's goal to champion digital transformation in budget and management services for more efficient and inclusive utilization of national resources, we have implemented digital transformation initiatives to improve the budgetary operations of the bureaucracy. 

By signing Executive Order (EO) No. 29 in July, PBBM ordered the digital transformation of our Public Financial Management (PFM) processes through the full adoption of the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems, with the Budget and Treasury Management System serving as a centralized database for all government financial operations. 

Meanwhile, DBM launched the Technical Innovations for the NEP Application, or Project TINA, named after our brilliant Undersecretary, the late Usec. Tina Rose Marie Canda. We are optimistic that the project will facilitate the generation, customization, tracking, monitoring, and computation of reports on the NEP.  

Another project launched was the Digital Imaging for Monitoring and Evaluation, or Project DIME, which utilizes remote-sensing technologies to track the progress of government projects. I am positive that this will provide and promote a more efficient and effective mechanism for planning, monitoring, evaluation, and validation of the government’s programs and projects. 

To ensure participation and transparency in the budget process, the President signed EO No. 31 institutionalizing the Open Government Partnership (OGP). 

At the sidelines of the 2023 OGP Global Summit held in Tallinn, Estonia, I was proud to relate how we incorporated OGP in our budgeting process—from planning up to implementation—as well as in the procurement process. I also shared our initiatives, which included the Civil Society Organization (CSO) Desk, Dagyaw Town Hall Meetings, and the OGP Regional Advocacy Campaign called ‘OGPinas’. We successfully launched OGPinas at the local level nationwide, building partnerships with local CSOs in the implementation of both local and national programs. We also submitted the 6th PH-OGP National Action Plan, our country's first-ever medium-term action plan on open government, to ensure openness and democracy. 

Thus, in 2024 and beyond, we, in the DBM, are committed to continue building on previous successes and implementing economic interventions and strategies to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that are aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 and the 2022-2028 Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF).

To hit the ground running, the National Budget Call for FY 2025 was issued in December 2023, and the budget forum has been scheduled this January. The FY 2025 budget aims to address socio-economic issues, support infrastructure investments, adapt to global digital transformation trends, and harmonize linkages between local and national concerns. The budget proposal includes priorities and policy directions consistent with PBBM's eight-point socioeconomic agenda; programs supporting the achievement of targets in the administration's MTFF; sustained commitment to infrastructure development through the Build Better More Program; and the provision of funds to fully support vulnerable areas and provide basic public services, as well as capacity-building programs for local government units. The goal, really, is to optimize allocation, considering the agencies' previous year's budget and implementation progress.

During the second half of 2023, national government spending increased dramatically when we directed agencies to submit their spending catch-up plans. This year, we are moving to ensure our budget utilization and efficiency will improve significantly. 

To ensure the competence and capability of PFM professionals in the national and local governments, we will conduct the PFM Competency Program in more regions and provinces to add to the more than 3,000 empowered practitioners we trained last year. 

I am likewise looking forward to the enactment of several laws. To enhance bureaucratic efficiency through institutional reforms, we are strongly advocating for the passage of the National Government Rightsizing Program. I must emphasize that the measure seeks to improve the government's institutional ability to carry out its duties while guaranteeing the best and most effective use of resources. 

I also eagerly await the enactment of our proposed new Government Procurement Reform Act that integrates sustainable and green public procurement practices to minimize environmental impacts, promote social responsibility, and support long-term economic sustainability to be responsive to changing times.

As chair of the Development Budget Coordination Committee, the DBM will continue to take the necessary steps to guarantee that we stay on track with our Agenda for Prosperity toward economic change that leaves no one behind, including future generations.

Beyond budget, looking back at 2023, the DBM has made significant strides to contribute to the call of President Bongbong Marcos to provide quality public services for our kababayans and ensure our economic transformation. With the President’s continued support to the DBM, we aim not only to sustain this momentum but to reach new heights in 2024 and beyond. We hope that our people will join us in creating a Bagong Pilipinas where equitable progress will be seen and felt by all.

(Amenah F. Pangandaman is the current Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management.)