OUR latest report looks at the the results of a global survey on the state of budget transparency and accountability, with special focus on the Philippines.
Tomorrow, 24 Jan. 2013, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) will release the Philippine Report of the Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2012.
The OBS is produced every two years by the U.S.-based International Budget Partnership (IBP), in collaboration with research and civil-society groups across the world. The PCIJ has served as country researcher for the Philippines since 2006.
In the 2012 Survey, the Philippines’ score in the Open Budget Index (OBI) dropped to 48 or seven points down from 55 (out of the possible 100) in 2010.
On the upside, the Aquino government has indeed followed through with transparency reforms specific to how public funds are being managed. The downside: These have been proved wanting as a global report now reveals that Filipinos continue to be denied full access to budget information and documents.
The latest figure is a throwback to the Philippines’ score in 2008: exactly 48. This only means that the Aquino government, just like the Arroyo administration, has made it harder for citizens to get information on how public officials and agencies are spending taxpayers’ money.
A score of 48 remains above the global average of 43 and the average of 39 in the East Asia and Pacific region. But 48 is still not good news: It has dragged the Philippines into the roster of 77 countries – out of the 100 countries surveyed that are home to half the world’s population – that fail to meet basic standards of budget transparency.
Despite the Philippines’ low score, however, the OBS cites some improvement and promising practices in the country in terms of budget oversight and citizen engagement.
IBP also notes that with a score of 48 out of 100, the Philippine government has the potential to greatly expand transparency by introducing a number of short-term and medium-term measures, some of which can be achieved at almost no cost on public coffers.