MECHANISMS are in place to improve budget transparency under the current
administration as a global survey found the country too restrictive of certain
information on how public money is allocated and spent.
Gil P. Montalbo, director of the Budget department’s corporate planning and
reforms service, said during the formal announcement yesterday of the results of
the Open Budget Index 2010 that the agency has "soft-launched" a new feature on
its Web site, labeled "fund releases," which discloses information on lump-sum
releases to state offices. The facility is expected to be fully operational by
end of this month.
So far, what have been uploaded on the site were releases for the Department
of Public Works and Highways, the school building program of the Education
department, and the internal revenue allocation of local government units last
"We are also working on having budget releases [this year] be automated so
that the moment the money is released, [the information] will be available
online," Mr. Montalbo said in a press conference yesterday.
He added that the second phase of the government’s e-procurement system that
is now being readied should enable state offices to conduct online biddings by
the first quarter of next year that can be viewed by the public. The current
system, put up in 2006, enables posting of invitations to bid and notices of
The Open Budget Index 2010 -- the latest series of a survey that is conducted
every other year -- found the Philippines leading its Southeast Asian peers in
But the same study noted that the country’s score of 55 in a 100-point scale
shows still fails to meet global standards in budget disclosure.
The latest survey was conducted in the Philippines from June 2009-March 2010
by the US-based International Budget Partnership through its local partner, the
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
While the study gave the Philippines good marks in areas like publishing the
enacted budget and providing progress reports within the budget year, it also
noted the lack of a "nontechnical" version of the budget that laymen can readily
understand and of timely, comprehensive audits.
In the same briefing, Leonor M. Briones, a former national treasurer and now
a professor of public administration at the University of the
Philippines-Diliman, said "timely" reports by the Commission on Audit (CoA)
would pave the way for more accurate future appropriations. "The release of
audit reports is late. Say for example, the 2009 report were just released last
September. How can we use those audit reports for reference?," Ms. Briones
CoA officials declined to comment, saying they have yet to read the results
of the survey. -- PPM