The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reported that the Philippines is one of the only four countries that demonstrated an adequate level of accountability in its early COVID-19 fiscal policy responses.
Conducted by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) and covering the period of March to September 2020, the country shared the same ranking with Australia, Norway, and Peru.
“In particular, the Philippines was assessed based on its transparency measures, extent of public engagement, and oversight powers over its fiscal measures, as implemented under the Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” the DBM said.
“The measures evaluated include direct fiscal support, tax relief measures, as well as credit and liquidity support,” it added.
According to the agency, main findings of the assessment show that the COVID-19 pandemic caused extensive pressure on governments around the world to adopt extraordinary fiscal measures in response to the health crisis, prompting about two-thirds of countries to provide limited or minimum levels of accountability.
Nevertheless, the country’s practices of publishing and submitting weekly reports to the Congress and the conduct of public consultations on COVID-19 response policies and programs through the “Dagyaw 2020: Open Government Virtual Town Hall Meetings”, among others, were lauded by the IBP, the DBM stressed.
“In addition to this, the assessment found that the survey results were strongly correlated with scores on the 2019 Open Budget Survey (OBS), suggesting that countries with stronger accountability systems during normal times tend to have stronger accountability during times of crisis, as well,” the agency explained.
“This reflects the country’s continuing commitment to ensure transparency and accountability in governmental processes even amidst the health crisis,” it added.
To recall, the Philippines improved its Open Budget Index score from 67 in 2017 to 76 in 2019 during the 2019 OBS, making it the most fiscally transparent country in the region.