Senator Christopher “Bong” Go emphasized the need to digitalize the government’s financial management operations during a briefing conducted by the Development Budget Coordination Council last Thursday,
Go, who is also vice chair of the Senate Committee on Finance said that in line with President Duterte’s directive, economic managers must speed up the digitalization of the entire financial management operations, such as the E-Gov Pay Facility, to digitalize government collections and disbursements.
“We need e-governance to provide our people with the services they need from the comfort of their homes or workplaces. Not only shall it enable our bureaucracy to better transition into the ‘new normal’ but it will also cut or minimize red tape and corruption,” he explained.
So pointed out that his proposed Senate Bill 1738 or the E-Governance Act of 2020 mandates the government to establish an integrated, interconnected, and inter-operable information and resource-sharing and communications network.
“As we prepare for the ‘new normal,’ the transition to e-governance becomes crucial, particularly the digitalizing of government processes. E-governance will also reduce red tape, eliminate corruption, enhance transparency, provide safe and convenient delivery of services to the people and encourage citizen feedback and participation,” said Go in previous statements.
He also said during the hearing that he supports shifting priorities and realigning spending policies to focus on containing the spread and mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; funding the procurement or production of vaccines; restarting the economy to create jobs and attract investments in line with continuing efforts to alleviate to poverty.
“As we move forward, we need to make long-lasting plans not only for our recovery but also for our sustainable future,” Go emphasized.
Secretary Carlos Dominguez III reported that the Department of Finance (DoF) is “moving very quickly” to digitalize its processes, pointing out that the department had successfully distributed assistance to 99 per cent of its small business employee-beneficiaries through the Social Security System and Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Dominguez also disclosed the DoF had been working with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation since last October 2019 to ensure their reporting systems produce accurate data in line with efforts for PhilHealth’s operations to be digitalized as well.
When asked for their proposed budget for 2021, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said a total of P21.4 billion had been allocated for next year’s Medium-Term Information and Communications Technology Harmonization Initiative expenditures to harmonize the government’s information and communication technologies (ICT) resources, programs and projects.
To aid in the shift to e-governance, P7.6 billion of the figure will be spent on the ICT requirements for telecommunications infrastructure, including provisions for the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s Free Internet WiFi Access Connectivity in Public Places Project, National Government Data Center, National Broadband Plan, and National Government Portal.
An additional P9.4 billion was allotted for the government’s daily operational ICT expenses (e.g. maintenance), P1.9 billion for ICT support to finance inclusion, and P2.5 billion for other ICT expenses and the Philippine Identification System.