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Innovation Talks: Fostering Transparency and Public Participation
through Open Budget Portals
September 4, 2023, 1:00 pm 

Innovation Talks


To our fellow champions and advocates of open government and good governance, a pleasant afternoon. In Filipino, magandang hapon po. And, since I am also from an Indigenous Muslim group in Mindanao in the Philippines, the Maranao, allow me to greet you in Arabic: Assalamu alaikum wa Raḥmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

I am Amenah F. Pangandaman, Budget Secretary of the Republic of the Philippines and the Chair of the Philippine Open Government Partnership.

As PH-OGP Chairperson, it is my honor to welcome you all to this PH-OGP-led side event. 

First of all, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to everyone here today for engaging in this session. And, we are very fortunate to have with us as our distinguished panelists—Prudence Cele, Director in the National Treasury of South Africa; Jose Mauricio Ramirez, Secretary of Finance in Bogota, Colombia; Eneken Lipp, Head of the State Budget Development Office of the Government of Estonia; and our very own, Maria Francesca Del Rosario, Undersecretary and Chief Information Officer of the Philippine Department of Budget and Management. 

In line with the objective of the 2023 OGP Global Summit to renew democracy through cutting-edge digital governance, today’s Innovation Talks will focus on Fostering Transparency and Public Participation through Open Budget Portals. And I believe we are in the best place to hold this dialogue as we are in Estonia, the world’s first digital republic and home of the Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment.

Digital governance is one of the policy areas of OGP. As such, innovation and the use of digital technologies have always been an integral part of advancing open government reforms. Through digital transformation, we have created and opened up new spaces for engagement and empowered citizens to actively participate in identifying solutions to governance challenges.

Recognizing this, in the Philippines, the PH-OGP team really pushed for the institutionalization of OGP. And thankfully, our President recognizes the importance of both digital transformation and having an open government.  

I am proud to share that Executive Order (EO) Nos. 29 and 31 were recently issued. EO 29 provides for digital transformation through the full adoption of the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems while EO 31 provides for the institutionalization of the PH-OGP. Together, these EOs will propel the country toward bureaucratic efficiency and fiscal transparency.

Now we also want to ensure public participation. We recognize that promoting inclusive digital transformation entails ensuring adequate feedback mechanisms. These include monitoring public services and publishing in open data formats so that the public will have increased access, use, and interoperability across various datasets. And this is where Fostering Transparency and Public Participation through Open Budget Portals come in.

Open Budget Portals provide the public with online access to budget information, in open formats and in real-time. A 2017 study by the International Budget Partnership revealed that countries that have moved beyond the Open Budget Index (OBI) score of 60, such as Mexico, Uganda, and the Philippines, introduced open budget portals as part of their Public Financial Management reforms. An OBI score of 60 indicates that countries publish sufficient information to allow public discussions on the budget. 

In the Philippines, the Department of Budget and Management ensures the timely and online publication of key budget documents, which include the People’s Budget series, to support informed public debate on the national budget. We have also operationalized a Civil Society Organizations or CSO Desk to respond to requests for information and address budget-related queries.

These are just some of our mechanisms to ensure that every budget allocation, decision, and implementation involves public participation. But we must also acknowledge that with growing access to technology—through which citizens voice their concerns—comes a greater need to reinforce their trust and confidence in the government. 

While viewing this as a challenge, we should also embrace it as an opportunity to change people’s perceptions and encourage them to take part in public affairs. 

Hence, I fervently hope that our Innovation Talks this afternoon will not only showcase how fiscal transparency portals and digital solutions contribute to increasing public understanding of the budget process but will also provide a platform to share how we can maximize the transformative potential of digital technology to ensure greater efficiency in the delivery of public services and ultimately uplift the lives of our citizens.

As governments, it is our responsibility to make it easier for our citizens to enrich our civic spaces. Thus, it is high time for us to meet them halfway in digital platforms and through digital transformation. 

And it should not stop there. Digital transformation should lead us to digital governance that is not only felt by those who have access to it but more importantly, by those who do not have the means to do so. Only then can we say that we have genuinely opened the government to the people. 

I understand that Estonia's slogan is Positively Surprising. And indeed, Estonia is: I was told that taxes are completed online within 5 minutes; 99 percent of public services are available online 24-7; and nearly 1/3 of Estonia's citizens vote via the internet.

This is the digital transformation that the rest of the world should emulate!

I came here personally to share our achievements in Open Government in the Philippines. But today I hope to learn from the different countries about your policies and systems so that we may go back home motivated and inspired to do more for our country towards transparency, efficiency and open government.

Let us make all our countries positively surprising ... that we may take even greater strides towards having an Open Government!

Thank you very much. Wabillahi Tawfiq Wal Hidaya, Wasalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.