By Prince Golez
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman on Thursday called on local officials to ensure the responsible and efficient implementation of the 2023 national budget.
“Today, I am proud to share that our 2023 National Budget is the fastest to be enacted in recent history, having been signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. last December 16, or merely five months from when I took my oath of office. Now we must carry the responsibility of efficiently implementing this budget for programs and projects that truly respond to every need of every Filipino and improve their quality of life,” Pangandaman said at the Philippine League of Local Budget Officers Inc. Annual Convention in Boracay, Aklan.
The Department of Budget and Management chief also emphasized the role of digital transformation as a top priority of the Marcos administration and key strategy to achieve the government’s Agenda for Prosperity.
“In crafting the P5.268-trillion national budget for 2023, digital transformation was established as one of our key government reforms because this translates to more efficient public service delivery, as well as more transparent, credible, and clean governance. It will also help the government build robust data systems that will create better programs, such as targeted social protection and more efficient employment opportunity linking systems,” she added.
A total of P24.13 billion was allotted for ICT-related expenditures in 2023, with P3.56 billion going to the Department of Finance and its attached agencies, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs, to boost revenue collection. P2.06 billion has also been set aside for the Philippine Identification System.
Pangandaman said a portion of the P7.24 billion financial assistance allocated to local government units (LGUs) can be used to create ICT systems and infrastructure, such as the establishment of an Integrated Business Permit and Licensing System and digitization of payments for collections and disbursements.
These budgetary allocations also complement the implementing rules and regulations of Executive Order No. 170, which mandates the adoption of digital payments for government disbursements and collections to ultimately promote financial inclusion, according to her.
Digital transformation, she added, is a vital tool in strengthening public financial management (PFM) at the local level, which is why the DBM is pushing for the passage of the Progressive Budgeting for Better and Modernized Governance (PBBM Governance) bill.
This initiative will institutionalize the Integrated Financial Management Information System and strengthen implementation of the Cash Budgeting System, said Pangandaman.
“We hope that through the PBBM Governance bill, we will finally truly modernize our budgeting system, resolve the fragmented PFM legal framework, and promote public participation in the budget process,” the secretary also said.
Meanwhile, the DBM official said the agency will soon launch the 2022-2026 Digital Transformation Roadmap that focuses on building a convergent hub by establishing Application Programming Interfaces, utilizing GovTech, enabling Digital Tax Bypass, and leveraging Data Engineering and System Integration.
“The bureaucracy is never easy. Change is never easy. But progress is never possible without change. And having this opportunity to be part of this change — for the better — will be one of our legacies as public servants,” said Pangandaman.
“So I call on every local budget officer and PFM practitioner, for all of us to work together in making our vision of digital transformation a reality — so that we can deliver a sound, systematic, transparent, and accountable form of governance that the Filipino people deserve and desire,” she added.
The three-day event, with the theme “Digital Transformation to Strengthen LGU Public Financial Management,” gathered LGU officials, local budget and finance officers, and PFM practitioners in the country.