If agencies contributed what they should to the Philippines’
E-Government Fund, the sum available for e-government projects would be
12 times what it is now, Monchito Ibrahim, Commissioner, Commission on
Information & Communications Technology, said at the FutureGov Forum Philippines today (Monday 15th November 2010).
Philippine government agencies are required to supply one per cent of
their budgets to the E-Government Fund, which is worth around 1 PHP billion (US$22
million). “But this is not happening”, Ibrahim told a room of 130
delegates at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Manila. “Our budget should be more
like PHP 12 billion (US$273 million),” he said.
The EGF is being used to support economic
development, fight corruption, improve fiscal management, healthcare and
agricultural productivity. But without a stronger government IT coordination agency – a department rather than just a commission of ICT - it has proved difficult to get agencies to release funding.
To a question on whether President Benigno Aquino was behind the creation of a Department of ICT, Ibrahim admitted: “The appetite is not there, because he [the President] is not being properly advised.”
A bill to create a DICT has been on the
table for over a decade in the Philippines, but has been consistently
rejected by Congress. Indeed, the abolition of the CICT was a real possibility after the general election in May.
Among the initiatives to benefit from EGF
is a national helpdesk through which Filipino citizens will be able call
a single number to transact with government, provision forms and
Land titling computerisation, a tax information system, and iSchools -
the archipelago’s award-winning digital inclusion project to connect
all of the archipelago’s public high schools to the internet - are also
sustained by the EGF.
The fund will also support the Philippines Digital Strategy, a new national ICT roadmap to run from 2011 to 2016.
The main driver for the masterplan is greater involvement from the
private sector, noted Ibrahim. “We are aiming for around 50 per cent of
work to be outsourced to the private sector.”
The complete Philippine Digital Strategy, which is still under development, will be unveiled in July next year.