Senator Loren Legarda stressed the importance of the Budget Reform Bill especially in improving government spending and delivery of services to the people.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, made the statement during the second hearing on Senate Bill No. 1450, the proposed Budget Reform Act, which she authored.
“This will institutionalize budgetary reforms that have already been established by the administration in the last two years to improve the budgetary process, increase spending, and most importantly, accelerate the delivery of government services to the people,” the veteran legislator said.
The seasoned lawmaker noted that the budgetary reforms introduced by the administration, including limiting to one year the validity of appropriations and the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) efforts to make the budget more understandable to the people and make information readily accessible through their website, have contributed to the country’s rise in the 2017 Open Budget Survey, making the Philippines the highest in Asia for budget transparency.
According to DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno, the Philippines now ranks first in Asia and 19th in the world, among 115 countries, in the 2016-2017 Open Budget Index (OBI). In the previous OBI 2014-2015, the Philippines was 4th in Asia.
The Philippines’ 2017 OBI rose by three points higher than its score in 2015 OBI, from 64 to 67. Through the Budget Reform Act, the DBM sees the Philippines to reach the score of 75 in the next OBI.
“The Budget Reform Bill aims to modernize the country’s legal framework for public financial management (PFM) by institutionalizing reforms in budgeting and strengthening oversight functions of Congress over the budgeting process. It will establish a PFM system that is transparent and fully accountable to the public,” the lady senator said.
“Through this measure, we also aim to address underspending, which has been a perennial problem in government. Government agencies must improve forecasting. They should be able to carefully plan their proposed budgets and ensure that they are able to implement the programs that will be funded within the 12-month period. Underspending simply means missed opportunities, it means denying our people the services they deserve. We hope to address this through the Budget Reform Act,” Legarda concluded.
Underspending simply means missed opportunities, it means denying our people the services they deserve.