Budget reform to streamline spending

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Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Wednesday he would strongly push for the passage of the proposed Budget Reform Bill that seeks to modernize budgetary system in the country.

In line with the goal to be one of the top 10 budget institutions in the world, the national government planned to shift to an annual cash-based budgeting system starting fiscal year (FY) 2019. The measure will mandate a more disciplined use of the national budget while also allowing transparent and efficient spending.

“We are the only country in the world which is in old system. We have to modernize so we will bring in institutions. We plan to be one of the top 10 budget institutions in the world. That’s the goal,” he said on the sidelines of pre-State of the Nation Address (SoNA) forum.
Diokno said once the bill becomes a law, it would be a landmark law that modernizes the public management system by addressing key gaps and alignment with international budgeting standards and best practices.

He noted there are many reforms contained in the Budget Reform Bill that are already being implemented.

“It is now pending in the Senate. We expect that will be taken out on July 24, the following day of the SoNA,” he said during the forum.

During the forum, the budget chief also discussed the accomplishments of new or improved participatory governance initiatives of the government, including the Hotline 8888, Freedom of Information portal, National Government Portal with 102 linked e-Services, Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Open Government Partnership platform.

Diokno bared the Philippines has received an Open Budget Index (OBI) score of 67 out of 100, making it number one in Asia in terms of fiscal openness and number 17 in the world.

“This is a testament to the government’s commitment to uphold a high level of transparency based on the amount and timeliness of budget information made available to the public,” he said.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet has approved the P3.757 trillion proposed budget for 2019.

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said P1.185 trillion (31.5 percent) of the budget would be spent for personal services, P752.7 billion (20 percent) for capital outlay, P640.6 billion (17.1 percent) for local governments and P562.9 billion (15 percent) for maintenance expenditures.

He said P414.1 billion (11 percent) would be allocated for debt payments while support for government-owned and – controlled corporations and tax expenditures will get P181.7 billion (five percent) and P14.5 billion (0.4 percent) respectively.

Diokno further said the country continues to increase the availability of budget information that can be freely accessed virtually around the world through its budget reforms.

“With ‘meatier’ and more citizen-friendly budget information that we regularly publish, we adhere to greater fiscal transparency not merely for the sake of uploading data for the public, but ultimately providing meaningful and useful information to enable greater citizens’ participation in and ownership of the budget process,” he added.