In yesterday’s Knowledge Forum on the results of the 2017 Open Budget Survey, DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno discussed the DBM’s current efforts to further improve the government’s fiscal transparency rating.
The Secretary discussed the creation of a Fiscal Openness Working Group within the DBM, the Open Government Regional Dialogue Series, and the Budget Reform Bill.
Currently, the Philippines ranks first in Asia and 19th in the world in the Open Budget Index.
“Being number 1 in Asia is even more exciting knowing that we are rising up in the rankings amid a competitive regional landscape.”
The Regional Average for East Asia and the Pacific increased by three points, from 41 to 44. The Philippines’ 2017 OBI also rose by three points higher than its score in 2015, from 64 to 67.
The current score surpasses the Philippine Development Plan target of 64. The PDP target for 2019 is 67, equivalent to the current OBI .
“We plan to improve and do even better and so our DBM targets are much higher - 69 by 2019 and 71 by 2021,” the Secretary said. “In fact, we could have had a rating of 73 had we passed the mid-year review on time; that’s a missed opportunity”.
According to the Secretary, the delay was brought about by the change in administration as the DBM was still in a state of transition.
“When we pass the Budget Reform Bill, we will easily reach 75 points,” the Budget Chief added. “We aim to be one of the top budget institutions around the world.”
The bill was also cited by Congress Karlo Nograles, Chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations, as an “aggressive reform”, one that will significantly improve budget oversight and introduce participatory mechanisms in Congress.
For his part, Secretary Diokno promised to submit the Medium Term Fiscal Program, which serves as the basis of the National Expenditure Program, by March 15 to ensure enough time for Congress’ review and deliberation.
Commission on Audit Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo also lauded the DBM on efforts on use of technology, particularly on the Budget and Treasury Management System.
“There was an attempt before to have it all (financial information) in one centralized online system. But that failed. Now I think the DBM is doing it slowly but surely,” he said.
The Philippines also ranked high on public participation, one of only four countries to achieve a moderate score in the category, sharing this distinction with New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
“Right now we are looking at how to expand participatory mechanisms from the Local Government level,” the Budget Chief told the media during an interview after the event.
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