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The Philippines is one of the only four (4) countries that demonstrated an adequate level of accountability in its early COVID-19 fiscal policy responses, based on the rapid assessment survey conducted by the International Budget Partnership (IBP), covering the period of March to September 2020. The other three (3) countries sharing the same ranking with the Philippines are Australia, Norway, and Peru.

Table 1: Levels of Accountability in early COVID Fiscal Policy Responses

Table 1 Levels of Accountability in early COVID Fiscal Policy Responses

*Source: https://internationalbudget.org/covid/

The rapid assessment on the transparency of COVID-related fiscal measures covered a total of 120 countries and used a set of 26 new indicators developed by international bodies to examine transparency, public participation and oversight of emergency fiscal policy packages introduced by governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was answered by both civil society groups and central governments.

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 measures evaluated include direct fiscal support, tax relief measures, as well as credit and liquidity support.

The 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 and the ensuing economic crisis. As a result, about two-thirds of countries have provided limited or minimum levels of accountability in the formulation and implementation of their fiscal policy response. 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.

In addition to this, the assessment found that the survey results were strongly correlated with scores on the 2019 Open Budget Survey, suggesting that countries with stronger accountability systems during normal times tend to have stronger accountability during times of crisis, as well. Hence, it may be recalled that the Philippines improved its Open Budget Index (OBI) score by nine points from 67 in 2017 to 76 to 2019 during the 2019 Open Budget Survey, making the Philippines the most fiscally transparent country in Southeast Asia while ranking 10th place worldwide. This reflects the country’s continuing commitment to ensure transparency and accountability in governmental processes even amidst the health crisis.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), positively welcomes the results of the IBP’s rapid assessment survey. This is an exemplification of the National Government’s continuous efforts towards upholding fiscal transparency and accountability, despite the unexpected, unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dedicated to sustaining the country’s recent positive performance in global rankings on accountability and transparency, the DBM commits to remain as a champion of open and participatory governance by delivering more concrete, felt and transformative results to the citizens especially during these challenging times.

For more information, the assessment survey report may be accessed through the website of the International Budget Partnership: https://internationalbudget.org/covid/ 

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