THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT acknowledged the seven point drop in its budget transparency rating, but stressed that significant reforms are already in place to make the budget more accessible to ordinary people.
Reacting to the Open Budget Survey report released by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) on Thursday, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the Philippines still remains “within the top 50 percent of the world in the OBI (survey)” despite the drop.
The PCIJ, which serves as country researcher for the Open Budget Survey, reported a seven point drop in the country’s rating from 55 in 2010 to 48 in 2012. The OBS is a global survey conducted every two years on the state of of budget transparency all over the world. The survey aims to encourage governments to open up their budget processes and make them more transparent, thereby discouraging corruption and encouraging more citizen participation.
In a statement posted in the DBM website, Abad noted that the reduction in the Philippine score was due to the late publication of some of the documents that are reviewed in the survey, and the “reduction in the quality of the document that has been considered as the Year-End Report.”
Abad said that while the government respects the methodology used in the survey (which applies throughout the world), the standards used are “rather limited in scope” and do not take into account other “high-impact developments” and initiatives in the country.
“These initiatives – along with other budget transparency reforms launched by the Aquino administration – have actually made it easier for the public to gain access to key information on the National Budget,” Abad said.
“We in the DBM under the Aquino Administration are committed to push for greater budget transparency and participation in the Philippines, and will continue to work towards better openness and public engagement in fund expenditure management,” Abad said.
Abad’s full statement may be read here.