The Philippines has maintained its lead in the Southeast Asian region on the Public Participation indicator of the 2021 Open Budget Survey (OBS) conducted by the International Budget Partnership. The results of the survey were presented today, 01 December 2022, at the De La Salle University, Manila.

The OBS measures three important criteria related to good governance and accountability, such as transparency, which assesses public access to budget information; formal opportunities for public participation in the budget process; and the role of budget oversight institutions in the budget process.

In her message, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) 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,” Secretary Pangandaman said.
In the 2021 OBS report earlier released on 31 May 2022, 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.

Meanwhile, garnering a score of 68 points out of 100, the country ranked 19th out of 120 countries on the Transparency indicator which measures public access to information on how the central government raises and spends public resources.

Among the key budget documents made available to the public by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the People’s Budget – a simpler and less technical version of the government’s proposed and enacted budget designed to convey key information to the public – got the highest score of 92.

The country also aced the Budget Oversight indicator by securing 74 points. The said 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.

Sec. Pangandaman, in her speech, likewise affirmed the current administration’s efforts to continue, and even improve the programs and initiatives of 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 or the PBBM Bill, which shall institutionalize the Cash Budgeting System… Furthermore, we will take the recommendations of the OBS to heart, and study the feasibility of introducing these in our processes,” Secretary Pangandaman expressed.
For his part, DBM Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo echoed Secretary 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). 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,” Assistant Secretary Toledo stated.

Despite the setbacks brought about by the pandemic, the DBM remained steadfast with its commitment to make budget information transparent and available to every Filipino.(PR)